In this episode, we talk all about what conditions in the gut suppress the immune system the most. Plus, Dr. Mayer reveals which diets hurt the microbes in our guts and which diets help the microbes in our gut.
Dr. Emeran A Mayer is a Gastroenterologist, Neuroscientist and Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the Executive Director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience at UCLA. As one of the pioneers and leading researchers in the role of brain gut interactions in health and chronic disease, in particular in IBS, his scientific contributions to basic and translational enteric neurobiology with wide-ranging applications in clinical GI diseases and disorders is unparalleled.
He has published more than 385 scientific papers, co-edited 3 books, published the best selling The Mind Gut Connection book in 2016 and the Gut Immune Connection book in June 2021. He is the recipient of the 2016 David McLean award from the American Psychosomatic Society and the 2017 Ismar Boas Medal from the German Society of Gastroenterology and Metabolic Disease. His most recent work has focused on alterations in the bidirectional communications within the brain gut microbiome system and their role in chronic inflammatory and functional diseases of the gut, obesity, and cognitive decline.
In this podcast, The Gut Immune Connection, we cover:
How the standard American diet affects our microbiome
The ways that we can improve the diversity in our gut
Can fasting have positive effects on our immune system?
The causes of leaky gut and what you can do about it
The Gut Immune Connection
Dr. Mayer says the gut does not control the immune system. Instead, there’s an interaction of multiple parts – it’s not just one part that will determine the other. 70% of our immune system is sandwiched underneath the lining of the gut. In a healthy gut, it’s insulated from the influence of the microbes. If anything happens to the barrier, you will get an immune system activation. Microbes can get into the immune system directly; once you have the signaling molecules and the actual microbes in the systemic circulation, they can go anywhere. They can go to the liver, fat tissue, and brain. It’s one of the main entry points for agents that can ultimately lead to this system-wide immune activation.
The Dangers of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is probably one of the most dangerous things that can happen inside your body. Leaky gut syndrome is at the core of many of our chronic health problems. Microbes produce many signaling molecules. With accelerated industrial agriculture, ultra-processing of food, ingestion of chemicals, poisons, pesticides, and antibiotics, it has just been a constant assault on the integrity of what we call an ecosystem. The body is a very complex ecosystem. We haven’t developed more problems because any ecosystem is stable and resilient to change.
Why Some People Get Terribly Sick From Covid
Most of these problems we’re dealing with today are some form of hyperactivity of the immune system. There’s a very complex balance in the gut. Sadly, we don’t have enough data on all the people that develop Covid. People who get heart disease, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes usually have these risk factors: obesity, an unhealthy diet, and metabolic dysregulation. People in lower socio-economic parts of our country are more likely to have these diseases for a variety of reasons. Sadly, there’s not great access to healthcare, and diets in those areas are terrible. So, they are most likely to develop Covid and the most severe forms of Covid.
Influence of Diet On The Gut Microbiome
The standard American diet is contributing to our deficient microbiome. Sadly, our diet has lost its diversity. Our diets have lost components of plant-based foods in general and we have replaced them with animal-based products. Also, the diversity of plant-based foods has gone down dramatically. Even if you eat a healthy diet, you will get a much smaller variety of plant-based molecules, which are essential for the microbiome’s diversity. If you reduce the diversity of the plant-based foods you ingest, you also greatly reduce these micro-targeted food items. Plus, we over-process our food to the degree that large molecules are absorbed in the small intestine. Overall, we have been starving our microbiome.
Dr. Emeran Mayer 0:00
Understand, grasp the interconnectedness of healthy systems within you got to be in your body, with the plants in the soil and being on the on the planet in general, because they’re all interconnected. And there’s, if you probe into it, you’ll be surprised. Hook forces interactions really are.
Dr. Mindy 0:23
I am a woman on a mission that is dedicated to teaching you just how powerful your body was built to be. I like to do that by bringing you the latest science, the greatest thought leaders and applicable steps that help you tap into your own internal healing power. The purpose of this podcast is to give you the power back and help you believe in yourself again, my name is Dr. Mindy Pels, and I want to thank you for spending part of your day with me, I get resetera is on this episode of The recenter podcast, we are going to take a new twist with the information I’ve been bringing you. And we’re gonna dive in to your gut microbiome. Now I want to give you a little bit of a background not only on the next guest, but on this topic. So for many, many years, we thought that our health was 100% determined by our human cells, specifically, our genetics. And it wasn’t until like the 1980s, when the microbiome project came around that we we discovered that human cells and microbes are interacting with each other, and that microbes are not all bad. I mean, stop and think about that. That’s only 40 years ago, that we started to realize, huh, microbes are not all bad. In fact, these microbes do magic in our body. They give us neurotransmitters that calm our brain, they help with mental clarity, they prevent things like Alzheimer’s, and they have a strong impact on our immune system. So my next guest is Dr. emran. Mayer, and he has written a book called the gut immune connection. This is his book that as you’re listening to this, this book is being released. Just right now, his prior book was mind gut connection. Both of them are fascinating. And in this episode, we talk about some very specific and applicable things for your life. One, we talk about what conditions in the gut are suppressing the immune system the most. And we’re not just talking about like infectious immune system. We also talk about autoimmunity. We talked about diets that hurt the microbes in our guts and diets that helped the microbes in our gut. And it’s a little different than you might suspect. So I’m excited to share that with you. And of course, we talked about fasting, I had to ask him what he thought about the research on fasting, because what we see with all of you guys is that fasting has a dramatic effect on your gut microbiome. And so he talked about that really fascinating conversation, we dive into everything you would need to know about the gut microbiome and its effect on your immune system, you will walk away that with from this conversation with not only a greater respect for these microbes, but with some really clear steps on what you can do to keep your micro biome in great shape. So Dr. amarin Mayer, and his book is the gut immune connection on Amazon right now. We will leave links in the show notes so you can dive into the science and the application of repairing your gut microbiome to improve your not only your mind, but your immune system as well enjoy.
One health topic I feel like isn’t discussed enough is the importance of a healthy microbiome for breaking down for months. So hopefully you’ve heard me say this before. Just because you make hormones doesn’t mean you use hormones, you need a healthy microbiome to be able to break those hormones down. Yet if you’re like me fasting, a lot busy lifestyle, finding time to get enough greens enough vegetables into your diet can be challenging. So I recently discovered Organa phi as products and I am in love with everything that they’re putting out there. But for my microbiome, my favorite product is their green juice. So check this out. Not only does it have Krell and spirulina in it, and red beet and lemon, wheatgrass all the things you need to grow a healthy microbiome, but the number one ingredient is a prebiotic powder. Now prebiotics will feed the good bacteria that are in your gut and these bacteria are breaking down estrogen. They’re making neurotransmitters like GABA, they’re giving you serotonin to keep you happy. So you want to feel These bacteria and goo Organa fires, green juice does exactly that. So check it out, you guys know, I like to use it to break a fast. I’ve also been using it in my fasting window in the morning. And the great thing about Organa phi is not only are all their products clean and free of toxicity, but they’re going to give you 20% off, all you have to do to order their products is to go to Organa, phi.com backslash pills, that’s Oh rganifi.com backslash p e LZ. And you’ll get 20% off. Again, let me know how the products work for you. I’m excited to share this tool for boosting your microbiome, and making sure that you’re breaking those hormones down and using them properly. I’m a huge fan of the microbiome, I really am excited about anybody who’s putting out information on the microbiome, because I feel like it’s not talked about enough, even though it’s talked about more than ever, it’s still not enough. We don’t give it enough credit. And it’s something that people need to be aware of. So I’m really excited to have this conversation with you and super happy to read the book.
Dr. Emeran Mayer 6:19
Yeah, no, it’s Yeah, it’s it’s sort of the book has taken I can probably say this when he asked me a question why I wrote the second book, but it’s been an interesting journey, you know, from my Regiment, my original complete lack of interest and expertise and nutrition as a gastroenterologist, paradoxically, to get really interested during my first book, then more interested during the follow up to the book with all the interviews and talking to different audiences. And then, you know, with with the second one is really dives in deeper into that. And, yeah, it’s been an interesting journey. So I come more from the brain side, because, you know, the brain got and tractions was kind of the thing that really fascinated me. But then within with the brain gut microbiome system that has kind of, you know, the diet part is sort of taking a big key importance in this. Yeah.
Dr. Mindy 7:17
Well, and I think it’s interesting, you were saying that you wrote the book last year,
Dr. Emeran Mayer 7:22
were you writing it last year, as we’re going through the pandemic. Now, he was interesting, because it was kind of a moving target as a pandemic. And I think a lot of people have forgotten that we’re in the midst of this, this epidemic, which is equally, it’s moving slower, and people are not dying as fast as was COVID. But I think it’s equally impactful, you know, on what the impact it has on on the health care system and on people’s health and mortality.
Dr. Mindy 7:54
Talk that talk a little bit about that. Because the one thing that shocked me last year, is that people thought we had a virus problem. And what I saw is we had an immune problem. Can you talk a How do we determine the difference between both? And what’s your feeling on that? Did we have a viral problem? Or did we have a compromised immune system problem?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 8:16
Well, I mean, I would say it’s, it’s the two of them coming together, you know, I mean, clearly, this virus is something that, you know, we have experienced before exposure to these viruses, most of the time come from from animals, and will continue to increase and the danger with, you know, the way we we farm animals, you know, it’s inhumane ways of producing our meat supplies, and, but it also come from, you know, encroaching on habitats of wild animals, and making this interface smaller between the wild animals and us. But there’s also clearly, as you can see, from the people that are most vulnerable to this virus, you know, is a good story to be learned. I mean, it’s not. Not everybody got it, not everybody has had to go to the ICU not, and not everybody developed along. COVID. So there’s all these factors that I think have to do directly with the immune system, you know, in the vulnerability of people. And that links it again, you know, to the immune system and our gut, you know, we’re most of it is located.
Dr. Mindy 9:30
What Yeah, I find it fascinating that you’re training as as as a gastroenterologist, and yet, I’m finding many people, people in general, but a lot of the medical profession, has not acknowledged that gut problems aren’t just stomach aches. They’re not just constipation, that an imbalance in the gut is something bigger than that. Can you talk a little bit about that and bring our audience up to speed?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 9:59
Yeah, just Some, this is definitely not being part of the curriculum, you know, in gastroenterology or even, even in medicine, I mean gut health. And so typically for gastroenterologist, there’s two things, there’s either something you see on your endoscopy, or if it’s not there, it’s something what’s called functional and it’s, you know, it’s dismissed as something, you know, it’s not really that serious, and that has changed a little bit over time. But it’s certainly not being replaced by this, this concept of God health or well being, you know, that that’s not at the center of, of the discussion and attention. At the same time, you know, we have learned so much about the different systems in the guard, you know, the, such as the digestive organs, such as the organ where your, you know, your colon polyps and cancers grow, it’s, it’s, it’s our biggest part of the immune system, because part of our hormonal system has its own nervous system that is, you know, 150 million nerve cells, and, and then several other cell types, you know, they only interact with each other, and then you add the microbiome to that system by itself interaction, these are the areas, you know, he homeostatic systems now a body that’s the health of that system. That’s something that is not, you know, received any attention, really, I would say, from, from from gastroenterology or from, from the medical system, you know, I will probably change now is, it’s been good that there has been this wave of interest and publicity and media attention. I think that is, you know, I’ve talked to some colleagues that are pursuing that, as sort of the same, you know, the same concepts and philosophy that I’ve had in this area.
Dr. Mindy 12:00
Yeah, all you have to do is go to PubMed, and type in, you know, gutten, brain, gut and immune system, you can find 1000s of peer reviewed journals, talking about it. And I feel like it’s a topic that just really needs to be shed, some light needs to be shed on it. And yet, I think that many people in our world believe that you only have a gut problem if you’ve got constipation, or diarrhea or something of that sense. So help us understand what exactly how does the gut control our immune system? And how would we know if it’s not doing a good job? giving us a strong immune system?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 12:42
Yeah, so I wouldn’t say that the gut controls the immune system, you know, I may have made a big case in my new book about this concept of systems biology, that there’s an interaction of multiple parts, and it’s not one part that determines influence the other, it’s always feedback loops. And it’s really the system behavior that we’re we’re interested in. And so yeah, I mean, just from the anatomy, you know, this is, you know, 70% of our immune system is sandwiched, just underneath the lining of the gut, microns away from all the, from all the microbes, and, you know, so it’s, it’s in very close contact to these microbes. In a healthy gut, it’s, it’s insulated from the influence of the microbes. But if anything happens to this, this intestinal barrier, then you get an activation of which either can stay in the gut. So you have this spatially limited immune system activation, which may not give you any symptoms at all. But if it’s more severe, then it affects the the tightness of the actual the epithelial layer, the gut layer, and then microbes can get into the immune system directly and they can get into the systemic circulation, you know, so this is and once that happens, once you have the signaling molecules and the actual microbes, in a systemic circulation, they can go anywhere, you know, they can deliver to the fat tissue to the brain, and can cause inflammation there, you know, and then we have is, so it’s almost like, you know, for you one of the main entry points for agents that can ultimately for influences that can ultimately lead to this system, wide immune activation.
Dr. Mindy 14:47
Would you say leaky gut is the most dangerous gut scenario that we can get inside of us?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 14:54
Probably the most dangerous You know, there’s certainly other things we can talk about that as well. But I mean, the leaky gut concept is, you know, I mean, I still remember, when the first patients told me about this, this word I dismissed it, this was like 10, you know, 15 years ago is something crazy that picked up from their functional medicine practitioner that nothing to do with reality or science, right. And I still have not found out how this first came into existence, that, you know, certain parts of medicine practitioners came up with this idea. So, yeah, in the meantime, I would say that is probably, as far as we know, today is at the core of many of our chronic health problems. And I mean, there’s obviously other things, you know, the microbes, themselves produce, produce many signaling molecules, I mean, hundreds of 1000s of so called metabolites. And from the food that we eat, and from some molecules that circulate in our, you know, in our system, like hormones, female, estrogen, female sex hormones, bile acids, the microbes, modify those molecules, once they get into the gut, and then they’re being reabsorbed. So those processes with these signaling molecules do not require leaky gut, you know, you can have, you just need the microbes that can do this,
Dr. Mindy 16:31
that you make it sound so simple, you just need the microbes, aren’t the microbes also, struggling with the modern living environment that we The human body is in?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 16:42
Yeah, so this has been something you know, that’s really been going on in the last 75 years since World War Two with accelerated industrial agriculture, and, you know, ultra processing of food, ingestion of chemicals, poisons, pesticides, antibiotics, I mean, just been a constant assault on the integrity of this, you know, what we call an ecosystem, it’s a very complex ecosystem. And the reason that we haven’t developed more problems is because any ecosystem is stable, and resilient to change. That makes sense. And despite all these, these onslaughts of all these negative things, you know, that we have lost some some microbial strains and species permanently. So if you look at the curves, you know, what has happened to diversity? It has continued to decrease in the last 75 years, and is continuing to decrease with many of the things continuing unabated, you know, this is implemented that I mentioned. And so that has, yeah, that is a couple of consequences. One is, it does contribute, it makes us more susceptible, for example, to viral infections. Because one major function of an ecosystem is its resilience, and its defense against invaders. pathological invaders. Another thing is, if this happens early in life, there’s there’s an altered interaction of the immune system with the, with the evolving, you know, microbiome. And so the immune system is, is less able to learn how to differentiate between good and bad. So the cause of the honeymoon, the, you know, epidemic of autoimmune diseases and food sensitivities, to all these things, you know, happen without, so you don’t need the leaky gut syndrome to to explain those and concepts now, but you know, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, there’s just many mechanisms, I think the most likely is it’s a combination of that leaky gut and the inflammation with these other signaling molecules that are altered gut microbiome produces and it’s Yeah, so I would say Welcome to the world of, you know, welcome to the ecosystem world because there’s not many diseases left that have one single gene, it’s obviously interactions and multiple factors.
Dr. Mindy 19:31
What do you think’s causing a leaky gut? So you talked about the microbes, not being prolific because of the environment that is going on in the gut, the ecosystem? What do you think opens those junctions up?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 19:45
Yeah, so the junctions really are opened by, you know, inflammatory molecules, cytokines, that the immune cells that are located in our gut just underneath the surface that they produce. And, and the mechanism that, you know, the way it works is there’s a sub class of these immune cells, dendritic cells, they actually, their extensions reach into the gut lumen into the mucous layer. And if any microbe gets close enough to those extensions to the receptors, these toll like receptors, then that that dendritic cell is activated, produces cytokines, cytokines affect the other immune cells, and then the immune cells together, you know, there’s, there’s many of these cytokines then act on these on these tight junctions, and loosen them, so, and the inflammation that goes on in that in that area, you know, loosens these tight junctions, and it’s sort of like opening the floodgates to the actual microbes, the intact microbes, you know, that. And what’s dangerous about that is I mean, they’re the, the cell membrane of microbes has, has molecules is made out of molecules, like LPs is one of the best on lipid polysaccharide. Another group of molecules are so called maps, ma MPs. And they, they act on the specific receptors on immune cells on these toll like receptors tlrs. And when that happens, you know, in the gut, or then once he’s at his cell wall components are in the circulation, it happens everywhere they go, you know, and it’s, um, so then all of a sudden, fat tissue turns into an immune organ, because it gets inflamed and produces more cytokines. Same in the liver, you know, just just just this natural, non alcoholic, fatty liver disease is a similar mechanism that immune activation plays a role in creating changes in the liver that makes causes inflammation. And so it’s, it’s almost like a contagion within the body, you know, and it starts the floodgates, or is or in the gut. And I think we know that process now pretty well, how that starts.
Dr. Mindy 22:24
You’re talking a lot about a cytokine storm, and I’m thinking, you know, that was a term that or cytokines that was a term that I feel like the world learned last year? And do you think there’s the possibility that this cytokine storm was already going on inside many humans guts, and then when they came in contact with COVID, they created this hyperactive immune response, because they already had a low level cytokine storm going on? Yeah, so
Dr. Emeran Mayer 22:54
I think to say, you know, in general, I mean, most of these problems we’re dealing with today are a some form of a hyper activity of the immune system. So in in allergies, it’s against substances that it shouldn’t be, shouldn’t be allergic to it, we shouldn’t have a reaction of our immune system, the same thing with autoimmune diseases, we should not, the immune system should not attack our own body cells. And with the cytokine storm, that’s just the last, you know, the last example. And let me just a very complex balance in the gods between the certain cytokines like aisle 10, interleukin 10, produced by a subset of immune cells called the T rex cells, and that our 10 is anti inflammatory. So if there’s an imbalance between the aisle 10 and the other inflammatory, pro inflammatory cytokines, then you have a state of enhanced inflammation potential. And if that was present in people, it’s it’s sort of hard to say retro actively, you know, because so we don’t have data on all the people that develop COVID even though on some of them, so there will be studies coming out on that topic, because on some, some of the patients that later developed or died or developed long COVID there were blood samples available from before they fell. But it’s the general concept is that anybody who has any of these not what’s called non infectious chronic diseases, so they make up our chronic disease epidemic, you know, heart disease, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, there’s a whole range of these diseases and they often call current and the same patient. Risk factors are obesity and an unhealthy diet and, you know, and and metabolic dysregulation, and this kind of breaks down, people in lower socio economic parts of our country are more likely to have these diseases for a variety of reasons. You know, this, this access to health care, unhealthy diet, probably the main thing. And so this group of society has been by far at increased risk to develop, not only to develop regular, you know, COVID-19 infection, but also the more severe forms, and this is cytokine. Storm. And it’s, it’s sort of, it’s kind of interesting. I was thought, you know, so if you look at populations around the world, we have the healthiest gut microbiome, the most diverse and the richest, it’s populations that live on the Orinoco River in Brazil and Venezuela. And so I have a particular interest in us, because during my college time, I was fortunate to be on a film expedition to these people. And, unfortunately, they are particularly susceptible, you know, and, but, but this is somebody else, because they’ve never been exposed to many of our viruses and infectious diseases, it’s just the same as with, you know, indigenous populations everywhere, in the US as well. Dead when, you know, Europeans came, they died, you know, rapidly from from these infections. So this is, so the microbiome cannot apparently protect you, against those kind of, or, you know, cannot protect it from this, there must be other factors. As I said, if, if a population has never been exposed to Western infectious diseases, then you know, the immune system just doesn’t know how to react to them,
Dr. Mindy 26:57
I was gonna say is that a training of the immune system, you know, there’s a lot of talk about how we really enhance our immune system by small doses of exposure to a variety of bacteria and viruses. So when I hear you talk about that, I’m wondering if they’re just exposed to different viruses, different bacteria, so they’re not, they’re not getting the more Western infections, and maybe if you plop them in New York, in 2019, they may have been better prepared to handle the virus in 2020. And that’s an interesting thing, because you know, the training, would you call the training of the immune system,
Dr. Emeran Mayer 27:40
your optimal training seems to require infections, chronic infections, with, with organisms and parasites that are not very dangerous, you know, that you can live with, right? So many of these indigenous people, they have these infections, you know, they, and what their immune system gets used to that. And so but if they’re exposed to something that comes from the outside is not part of their natural environment, then you know, that they’re even more vulnerable than then then to blend into us with a compromised microbiome.
Dr. Mindy 28:17
How much do you think stand the standard American diet is contributing to our deficient microbiome
Dr. Emeran Mayer 28:23
a lot, I would say, I would say, try to single out one factor, it would probably top the list. And that also is relatively simply explained by that, you know, our diet has lost in diversity. First of all, it’s lost in the components of plant based foods in general, and replace it with with animal based products. Secondly, the diversity of these plant based foods have just gone down dramatically, you know, the types of grains or the types of, of beans or anything, you know, has gone down from hundreds to less than a handful. And so even if somebody eats a healthy diet, you know, lunch, you plant rich vegetables and fruits, to get a much smaller variety of, of these plant based molecules, which are essential for the diversity of the microbiome. And the two categories are the fiber on the one side, you know, it’s not just one type of molecule. There’s hundreds of different types of chemical structures, they make up these fibers from different and then the other group of molecules or these polyphenols or antioxidants, that are these large molecules, again, that you need the microbes to break them down. So if you reduce the diversity of the plant based foods that you ingest, you also greatly reduce the amount of Of these of these micro targeted food items, and so the microbes are starving. On top of that, you know what’s happened with the ultra processed food, we don’t leave. Even that reduced diversity of food, we don’t leave alone. So we process and over process it and to, to the degree that many of these large molecules are broken down and absorbed in the small intestine, so they no longer go down into the large intestine. So we really have been starving our microbiome. I mean, that’s, you know, that. And, and that process has been going on ever since humans invented cooking. A long discourse back for more than 100,000 years. And, but initially, this wasn’t as extreme as it is now. You know, I think there’s definitely been an exponential increase of, of this processing, ultra processing in the last 5075 years. Because food companies in combination with industrial agriculture, I mean, this goes hand in hand, you know, industrial agriculture produces these, these monocultures of crops, because it’s cheaper to produce, right, and then the food industry takes these and process and over processes them to take out even the good parts out of these other these foods, you know, adds as sugar to it and takes out fiber and you can almost go to, to to market. And you know, if you look for, for natural high fiber, fruits or rice is, the white rice is still considered the best one pastime, you know, the password you get now in Italian restaurant is, is almost devoid of fiber. So most things that in, in industrialized societies, and in the standard American diet, were potatoes and other example, you know, potatoes and are optimized for, for making french fries. And those potatoes have a very low fiber content compared to sweet potatoes, for example, you know, which staple food or the open item,
Dr. Mindy 32:17
that’s my favorite fed. Literally,
Dr. Emeran Mayer 32:20
you end up you know, you’re totally conscious in this face, but you’re not representative for the majority.
Dr. Mindy 32:28
So with the, with the number one thing we could do to feed our microbiome B fiber fiber, and
Dr. Emeran Mayer 32:35
these poly phenol, so fully finos are these large molecules and they cannot be absorbed in the small intestine. They are part of every fruit, highest in in berries, all kinds of berries, red wine, or red wine, even though I mean red wine is not on the top of the list of these, you know, it’s always sort of been used as, as the example of fully finos. But the many other things particularly I would say, berries, nuts and seeds that have higher and just about any vegetable has it. And isn’t. And again, there’s not just one, you know, there’s hundreds or 1000s of different molecules. And so why is it so important when emphasize you know that diversity of fibrin and polyphenols because micro many microbes are specialists, they don’t they don’t digest any any kind of fiber, they especially on certain types of fiber, certain types of polyphenols. And so if you feed them this large variety, and you force the system to add on other specialists still that can help and and you expand, you know, the the ecosystem of that food food process and this endogenous food processing system in your, in your gut. And if you do this, I think you answered before if if you do this today, so obviously our diversity and richness has gone down a lot continues to go down. And you could say, well, it’s too late. So you know, maybe some of these strains have gone extinct. So why why should they pay much attention to this? Well, before they go into extinction, as we know, from macro ecosystems that could jungle or so before species goes into existence I go goes into, you know, being being totally eliminated. He goes through a stage four, it’s almost undetectable, but there’s still a very low level of those organisms present. So now if you bring in this food, you nurture and you grow back, you know, like a gardener, you know, you bring back things that that have not been doing well. Yeah. And if you’re lucky, they there’s enough left of them that you know, they come back Yeah, so you can restore your ecosystem, you know
Dr. Mindy 35:04
that, you know, we’ve done 1000s of gut tests on our, on our receptors and not one. I kid you not not one, I think I had maybe a little bit of an inkling of one in a child, but not one had enough diversity that the test came back that their microbe diversity was very low. And they had created this mano culturing of their microbiome, do you think that’s because we tend to eat the same foods over and over and over again? Is it because if I’m eating the standard American diet, I’m always eating the standard American diet? If I love sweet potatoes, I’m always eating sweet potatoes. What is it that we can do to really improve the diversity? Do we need to buy from different farms all the time? How do we get that diversity up? No,
Dr. Emeran Mayer 35:57
I mean, if you if you’ve rotate, I mean, first of all, I think you have to become aware of the problem, you know, it’s not for sure, you know, you can be a vegetarian by just eating pizza, but it’s not going to good good for your health, well said, you know, and it’s the same, you can’t be a vegetarian, just eating carrots, you know, it’s not going to, particularly carrots that have been, you know, selected from hundreds of different types of carrots, to the one that has the most sugar in it, because that’s the tastiest. So it is, as much as different types, you can use seasons to influence that process, you know, you get different varieties, particularly seems in California, we overcome the subsidy by having everything available all the time. But not in all, you know, not all parts of the country, not all parts of the world. So you can rotate them seasonally. And we know that that’s a good thing for microbes. The ones that don’t get enough are the variety. So we know this from studies in Africa. Amongst, you know, people that the hot side, people that sort of the descendants of the last remnants of hunter gatherers, so they have this seasonal food supply, and they have a season where the diversity of the food intake goes way down, as does the devil diversity of microbes and the molecules that the microbes produce, it goes down to almost a level that’s comparable to our Western, our standard American diet situation, interesting differences, when they then eat go into another season, they all come back. So they don’t go extinct, you know, they just are suppressed to a really low level. Yeah, so clearly, you know, you may not have access to all the same fresh vegetables and in winter time, many parts of the US as you have been in the summer. Yeah, so this is something I mean, going also another thing is just going to, if you know, the source, where and how it’s grown, is also a big influence. Yeah, so the poorly, you know, content, for example, is dependent on the health of the soil and the microbes in the soil. So if this if this food is grown, and you know, it’s a big discussion about this aquaponics that this could allow us to, you know, double and triple our food supplies, with Iranian waters and then along, the roots are no longer in soil and are exposed to the microbes. So these these foods have a much lower concentration of, of these health beneficial molecules. So you want to know exactly where it comes from? How is how is it grown? Is it grown in organic fashion or even better regenerative, organic fashion? So
Dr. Mindy 39:00
Get to Know Your Farmer is what I heard. How do you decide which fast to do? This is a very common question that I get pretty much on a weekly basis. And it really depends on what you’re trying to do with your health. And so I really strongly feel that there are six facets that will really benefit the human body. And they’re all based off of research, and they’re all based off of time. And once you understand these six fast, it’s really fun to vary them and go in and out of different types of fasts. So what I’ve done to make fasting much easier for you guys is I have a free giveaway. It’s a fasting cheat sheet. And if you just go into the show notes, you’ll see there’s a link there, just click on the link and it’ll send you to the fast team cheat sheet. And here’s what I want you to know in that cheat sheet. Actually, other than great bullet point information that will like help you to dial in your fast, really quick I play, I’ve included some new information from a fasting book that will come out in 2022 for women. And so it’s got some really unique information, but also really clear guidelines for you to follow so that you thrive with your fasting lifestyle. So that’s my fasting cheat sheet. And it’s free to you guys just go into the show notes, you can click on the link, and you’ll be able to access it. And as always, I hope it changes your life and moves your health forward. What do you think I’m curious what you think about fasting because I have this new Aha, since we have a tremendous amount of people in our community that fast together, that chronic diseases coming from the standard American diet, but getting everybody from the standard American diet to the whole foods diet, it could be expensive. But what if we got everybody to fast the research that I see on fasting shows that you can repair the microbiome, everybody can afford to fast? What are your thoughts on fasting for repairing this?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 41:02
Yeah, this is really interesting. I mean, you know, to date, I mean, it’s been 30 years of preclinical research on fasting in mouse models, and shown that think increases longevity. I mean, when I started, when I was still in college, I remember once visiting a lab at UCLA that, you know, somebody did studies with famous guy, and somebody did studies and fasting mice, and they lived, you know, 20% longer and stayed healthy. So we’ve known this for a long time in in animal so I’ve, you know, half done animal studies in the past, I’ve become a big skeptic, of the Translate ability of, you can show anything in a mouse that you cannot reproduce in humans, you know, because of the different genes and the heterogeneity, and there’s evidence, many factors. But there’s some evidence, you know, that fasting has benefits on, on metabolism, for sure. On metabolic syndrome. There’s also some really interesting data on one one form, I mean, I really call it fasting, but it’s, it’s, it’s included in these intermittent fasting categories, the the time restricted eating, Mm hmm. I find that particularly attractive for two reasons. One, it’s practical. Anybody can do this, you know, exactly, will compress the time when you need to, to eight hours a day or less. So we’ve been doing it during the pandemic and have not really felt that this is incompatible with a normal lifestyle. And so there are fascinating studies that during that, I mean, two things happen. One is if no food is in your in your GI tract, then it switches the entire function of your GI tract switches to a different pattern. It switches from these unique contractions that you have when food is in there. peristaltic reflex and mixing and grinding and it goes through a very different clockwork kind of pattern, that every 90 minutes you have this big contractor wave going through from your esophagus to the end of your intestine, which moves everything with it, including microbes, removing them from areas where they don’t belong to like this, of course for the small intestine. cebo stuff. Yeah, yeah. So one thing that protects us against evil is this what’s called the migrating motor complex of the GI tract during fasting. For most people, that pattern has been reduced to the time that they sleep. Even though in other, you know, cultures coming back to these indigenous people on the Orinoco River, you know, that sort of I mean, they don’t lunch or eat throughout the day, don’t you have time because they’re working outside of hunting. But they sleep there 12 hours from sundown to sunup and so they have at least 12 hours absolutely nothing is stomach and then unfortunately, at the time when I was there, you know, I was not aware of all these questions, I would love to go there now. There’s all these theories, but in in the West so we have even even the the nighttime we have encroached upon was what was food, you know, there’s snacks after dinner and a glass of wine after dinner and and then you know, for many people a big breakfast and early breakfast because they have to commute get up at five o’clock. So they and then there are these people that pride themselves so they only need to sleep for hours and then they can work again with something in their stomach. So all this has sort of encroached on this time that our GI tract isn’t this cleansing fashion. And so that’s one at the same time secretions into the, into the gut go along with this cyclical pattern. And what we know of recently is that the, the, what’s called the the geography of the microbes with in relation to the God. So they are the distance of microbes to the gut lining changes, if you are fasting or if you’re eating something. And so you basically change the whole interactions that your microbes have with, with the immune system and other cells in the gut, just by having a long period where no food gets there. And then there’s, you know, and then there’s the metabolic thing as you know, you know, sure
that our body then switches to this burning Tetons, for for energy. Yep. And, I mean, that clearly happens to certain degrees during those, this prolonged period of without food in the stomach. And you can even extend it by when you have your first meal. So we do it for example, if it noon to add the first meal to make this consisting of, you know, I would say plant based keto, so it’s not sin seeds and, and no, no car, no easily digestible carbs, no sugar. So you can extend that period, or there’s no sugar to burn even longer than, you know, then these 16 hours.
Dr. Mindy 46:44
Yeah, you’re talking my language now that that’s exactly what I always say is what you break your fast with, will determine if the benefits continue on. So what I hear you saying is if you break it with something plant based something fibery you’re feeding the microbiome that is ultimately going to help your metabolism.
Dr. Emeran Mayer 47:04
Yeah, and that that first meal of the day, you know, is is pretty high in plant based fats, you know, the nuts and seeds and you know, the things that we put into it. So it’s essentially it’s, it’s polyphenols, fat and fiber. And, and no, and no sugar. And, you know, that’s obviously Another thing we haven’t talked about, you know, is why is the diet so unhealthy? I mean, the, the excessive amount of sugar, not just adding the sugar to your cup of coffee, but the hidden sugar and high fructose corn syrup syrup. ingesting any kind of food that you consume is, has been shown to be bad for a microbial system and for cocktails. So there’s no no questions.
Dr. Mindy 47:53
Yeah, well, that’s why that’s why I actually have this vision. I was one of my missions for 2021 has to been to get a million people fasting, because I believe it’s the quickest way out of this chronic disease problem. We are the food industry has trained our taste buds, they’ve destroyed our gut, like you’re commenting. And yet not everybody has the resources, the financial resources to walk into Whole Foods. But everybody has the financial resources to fast. So we just they just need to know how to do it. And the science is very compelling as to what it does for the microbiome, both in mouse studies, but also in human studies. How long it How long do you think it takes to change your gut? Because that’s the other question that a lot of our community is has asked us. If I if you’re listening to this, you’re like, oh, man, I messed up. I’ve been eating the standard American diet now I need to start to change. How does it take days, weeks years?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 48:51
Well, there are these studies, you know, the the early, quite famous studies where people were switched from vegetarian to a keto diet. And it switched within 48 hours. So yeah, the adaptability is pretty high. I mean, the microbes, you know, they have, they have millions of genes, many more than we humans have, which gives them a tremendous ability to adapt to new situations they can even though you know, switching to the pure of animal based not a good thing for the microbes for that diversity because they, they don’t get enough of the stuff that they really like. But no, the adaptability is free, remarkable. And it’s also important to realize, we talked about this earlier. So some of these is diversity as has fallen by the by the roadside with over the last 75 years. You won’t bring those back But you can bring back the ones that are the very low level, you know, and it’s almost undetectable. So and there’s a lot of those, and you can actually add quite a bit of diversity and richness and abundance to, to your unit if your system is compromised,
Dr. Mindy 50:17
which is really encouraging, because I mean, again, this is what I love about fasting is it’s the Ultimate Reset, you can start to repair the body, the human body is so inclined to repair. And it’s not, you know, but you’re dealing with human cells, and we have more bacterial cells than we have human cells. So I’ve always wondered if it is the bacteria is as adaptable or more adaptable, it sounds like they may be more adaptable than human cells,
Dr. Emeran Mayer 50:44
you I mean, the microbes are much more adaptable I you know, what we see with these, it’s, it’s sort of hard to, for people to think think about it this way. The reason we have this health, chronic health crisis now, chronic disease crisis, it’s because our food supply and the environmental factors and lifestyle factors have changed rapidly during the last 75 years, the micros were able to adapt quickly to this in a way that you know, it’s reduced diversity, they don’t need that many players, because there’s much less fiber coming in and much less. So if you just look at it from the microbe standpoint, they have adapted to this new situation. But our God is not. So now you have a mismatch of between these altered microbial communities in our gut system, because our system is determined by our 20,000 year 20,000 genes. And this mismatch between these two systems is probably the reason why we get the immune activation. You know, it’s I mean, I give you an activation service, like a warning sign that something bad goes on. Yeah. So you can look at our current crisis as the warning lights have gone on, to tell us that something negative has been happening, you know, to outside and in the microbes, they will continue to adapt. I mean, if we, you know, if it couldn’t be if we stay at our current, you know, standard American diets, as some people have said, This, in theory, hopefully won’t happen. But if you stayed on this for like, 15,000 years, I don’t think humans would survive that. But if you stayed on it, there would be enough time for the genes to adapt for the human genes. So then, potentially, would actually get less inflammation, because now our GI tract has adapted to it. You know, it sounds kind of interesting, but I think people have always realized microbes are extremely smart. It’s, it’s the most abundant, and the most adaptable, and I would even say dare to say the most intelligent life form on Earth. It’s it’s space, spatially distributed. It’s not in a brain concentrated, but it’s the brain that surrounds the whole world. You know, it’s, it’s a network of cells sets around civil work and interact with each other. So I look at this as and, you know, Microsoft survived any major cataclysmic events like the extinction, five, five mass extinctions, microbes have always survived because they are better in adapting, you know, to extreme changes in the environment.
Dr. Mindy 53:41
I love this conversation. I’m so grateful that you wrote two books. I know your new one coming out is the gut immune. But your first one was a gut brain, right? gut mind. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And I think both of these are incredible topics. So how do people find you where can they go? Can they preorder your book on Amazon? Where Where are you located?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 54:03
So the first thing is, so this is the new book which comes out in one week.
Dr. Mindy 54:08
Dr. Emeran Mayer 54:10
And they can pre order it for from any bookseller now. And so the best way is to go to my website, Mr. meyer.com, which will give you information so one is you can sign up for a newsletter that we have the minecart conversation, which deals with many topics of the mind got diet system. And but you know, also can go to all the social media channels and will present on all of them. So I think going to the website, signing up for the newsletter would probably be the first step
Dr. Mindy 54:46
starting spot. Yeah. Awesome. Well, okay, I have five rapid fire questions for you that are unique to you. So my first one and I’m really curious about this. What do you feel like is the greatest health habit that you personally do to support a healthy microbiome?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 55:05
I would say it’s adhering to a largely an emphasis on largely plant based diet. And paying attention to where this diet come where the food comes from, how’s it grown? And when do I eat it? So this is I would say the main thing,
Dr. Mindy 55:24
love it. Okay, what book or person really influenced you the most you you have a very interesting story of going from a more traditional medical practice into this more functional world. What was there a book? Was there a person what influenced your obsession or your desire to understand the microbiome at the level that you are educating people on?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 55:48
So to be honest, it was really writing my first book and being being asked by publishers and agents, if you would want to write this book, like six years ago, that is taking me on a path that was very different from what I had been on. And if I had to identify one individual, it’s it’s the owner and founder of Patagonia, nice Yvon Chouinard, who is was a visionary, in my opinion, you know, having gone from an extreme rock climber to somebody who’s mainly concerned about, you know, the environment. And his main thing is sustainable organic agriculture, with all the constant health consequences that this has. So yeah, I’ve had to identify one individual. And there’s many others, you know, that have come up in the meantime, that have approached me that I’ve learned at meetings that are not part of the traditional gastroenterology. Community love it. And it’s, it’s, it’s been wonderful. I mean, it’s really been wonderful.
Dr. Mindy 56:57
Yeah, we were huge fans of Patagonia, we try to purchase their clothing and they have a food line that’s come out, just support him in any way possible, because he’s doing incredible work in the world. So what if here’s a really interesting thought that I keep thinking, if we had people like you in the positions like the Surgeon General, what would last year have looked? How could that have looked different? So if you were a surgeon general right now, and you want it and you’re instructed to clean up the health of America? What would you do?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 57:34
Well, I mean, it’s a difficult one, I think that question is more relevant now for the Surgeon General to prevent that this is going to happen again. And, you know, because once a pandemic started, obviously, he was an extreme emergency situation, you know, this could have this, if he didn’t, if he didn’t have the vaccine, it would have knocked out a lot, millions of people in the US, it would still be ongoing, raging now. And so I would say the main thing that I would do now is really to I mean, this sounds kind of crazy. If having been a scientist and NIH funded scientists all my career, I think people should think about put more money into lifestyle modification, yes, starting in kindergarten, and then in, in finding out, you know, which molecule does a particular thing because there’s research benefits, ultimately, primarily, the pharmaceutical industry is going to make tons of money with it. If you if you change the lifestyle, and everything would involve exercise, diet, you know, sleep hygiene. So there’s a whole range. I mean, you could have, you could have a whole course in school and you know,
Dr. Mindy 58:57
yes, you could. Yes, you could. And you should,
Dr. Emeran Mayer 59:00
yeah, you should, and teaching the kids and the mothers, you know, should be Yeah, exactly. So,
Dr. Mindy 59:06
yes, I always say that there is traditional medicine, there’s alternative medicine, and then there’s lifestyle medicine, and I feel like we need to start with lifestyle. And if we do, then we’d like to your point, we don’t need as many supplements, we don’t need as many medications. We really have it backwards, we go to the pills first, whether they’re natural or chemical based, and then we try to fix the lifestyle. Second, we should flip that on its head and start with lifestyle first.
Dr. Emeran Mayer 59:36
And it’s also something you know, it’s a little bit of a detour, but I sort of love to study everything written this. This, this blog post for our newsletter, which came out today. You know, about this whole revolution that’s going on in psychiatry with the psychedelics.
Dr. Mindy 59:54
Yeah, it’s getting a lot of traction.
Dr. Emeran Mayer 59:57
plant based molecules. You know, I think I think we’ve come to a point now that with a healthy diet, we we bank on plant based molecules, the pulling fields and the fiber. In now in psychiatry, we bank on another group of molecules that also plants are producing. And it’s amazing. It’s sort of, I wouldn’t be surprised if we are on the verge of moving away from this total focus on chemical, you know, interventions that I hope so it is sort of like a last resort, because we don’t know what goes on before that would leads to this. So I think, yeah, we can we can learn a lot from the plants and the microbes. I think that’s very smart system life.
Dr. Mindy 1:00:43
Um, have you have you read the book overstory. I’ve read it. Oh, you have to read I just a friend recommended it to me. And it’s about how trees communicate with each other through the roof and through through microbes. And but it’s told us in like a story, it’s really good. So you would like it with your passion for microbes? and nature and plants? Yeah, it’s beautiful. Okay, last question. If you had one message for the world, that you could get into everybody’s brain and get everybody to understand what would that be?
Dr. Emeran Mayer 1:01:18
That is a tough one, you know? Yeah, I mean, the one message would be that I’ve been promoting Olsen, in my last book, in my new book is adhere to the One Health concept, you know, understand, grasp the interconnectedness of, of, of health of healthy systems, meeting, you got to be in the, you know, in your body, with the plants and the soil, and, and being on the on the planet in general, because they’re all interconnected. And there’s, if you probe into it, you’ll be surprised how close these interactions really are. So if you want to, if you want to fix one, I think you should address the whole, the whole package. And I think we can do this today, you know, upgrade. I don’t know if he can do it politically. But we certainly can do it scientifically.
Dr. Mindy 1:02:21
Hey, resetera, I just want to start off by saying thank you so much for all your wonderful reviews. And those of you that have left me comments on iTunes. I just greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and how much you guys are enjoying these episodes. And it seems like you’re enjoying them as much as I am enjoying doing them. One of the things that I’ve learned in just interacting with so many people is that we’ve really lost the art of deep conversations. And for me, the reseller podcast stands for having meaningful conversations with people who are thinking about health, about life about mindset in a way that we may not be getting on social media or in mainstream media. And so I just want to say give you guys a shout out and just say thank you for participating in this process with me, because as much as I absolutely love delivering the information to you, I love even more knowing that it’s impacting your life. So please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make this podcast more customized to you to make it better. We are now officially in season two. And we are working to bring you the best conversations that health influencers have that mindset changers can give and to really deliver you something that you’re not able to get anywhere else. So from the bottom of my heart, as I always say my YouTube from the bottom of my heart. I am deeply appreciative of you. I am deeply grateful to be on this journey with you and let’s get healthy together.