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Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for Brain Fact Friday and episode #156 that takes us back to the Top 5 health staples that we introduced at the end of 2020[i] when I was asked to speak at Podbean’s Wellness Week[ii]  with Dr. Carolyn Leaf. I’ve listed a reminder to these 5 health staples in the show notes and think it’s important to revisit them using the principle of “spaced repetition” since “where our attention goes, energy flows” (James Redfield) with the idea that as we move in the direction of our goals this next year, that we do so with our physical and mental health in mind.

I’m Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

Medical Disclaimer: Just a reminder—I would consider myself a researcher, sharing preventative and supplemental ideas and strategies related to the most current research on the brain, health and wellness education. In addition to studying directly with Mark Robert Waldman, a leading neuroscience researcher and expert on communication learning and the brain, I spend my evenings, weekends and spare time making connections with our past speakers, so that I can share these ideas to help bring more awareness to the advancements made in this fast moving field.  Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your health and remember that you should never disregard medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you learn through this podcast.

Back to our episode—You may have noticed the shift towards health and wellbeing at the end of 2020 as we were a good year into the Pandemic, and who wasn’t looking for ways to improve their mental and physical health to improve cognition, productivity, and results. When I look at the top 5 health staples, I know that some of them I can put a check next to, and say “making progress here” and some areas I know I have completely forgotten about, and if these 5 health staples are important for future brain health, mental health and Alzheimer’s prevention, I know it’s important to keep learning as much as possible to further optimize these areas. As I am researching and learning, I will share anything important and relevant on our future Brain Fact Friday episodes.

This week I wanted to focus on Health Staple #4 “Optimizing our Microbiome” because I still have questions myself about best practices in this area and making a stronger case for the gut-brain connection as we figure out the best ways to fix, repair and rebuild our body so that we can be the best possible versions of ourselves. To do this, I wanted to share some key findings from Jonathan Otto’s recent documentary Autoimmune Answers[iii] with some ideas that he brings to light to help everyone understand that strengthening our immune system is the key to disease prevention and health, and how understanding Autoimmune Diseases (like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis or Type 1 Diabetes) all begins with an understanding of the gut-brain connection.

We all know the toll that the Pandemic took on our mental health, and I was reminded today with a post on Instagram from Amen Clinics[iv] that “suicide hotlines have seen a significant increase in calls due to (the) Coronavirus” and that “we must continue navigating the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.” I think back to my interview with Dr. Carolyn Leaf[v] who I hosted Podbean’s Wellness week with last December, and her most recent book that we covered on a bonus episode this past March reminds us that we must “Clean Up Our Mental Mess” since “unmanaged toxic stress puts our body into low-grade inflammation which can accelerate the aging process”[vi] among other things we will take a closer look at on this episode. Dr. Jon Lieff on episode #143[vii] reminded me that “inflammation is the precursor for chronic disease.”

Which brings me to this week’s Brain Fact Friday.

I mentioned I wanted to focus on health staple #4 this week (optimizing the microbiome) and this week, I came across a documentary created by Jonathan Otto called Autoimmune Answers[viii]  that caught my attention because someone I know has been struggling with health issues for some time now, and every time he visits the doctor, he is told—your blood work looks fine, so it’s got to be an auto immune disease.

I started hearing about automated immune diseases from Ari Whitten from his Energy Blueprint: New Science of Energy Class[ix] where he went deeper into the causes behind common illnesses that he would say showed brain-related symptoms like chronic fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and loss of resilience that he attributed to “neuroinflammation” or chronic inflammation in the brain. He said that some of these illness were caused by a leaky blood-brain barrier (that should let in glucose, amino acids, and hormones, but keep out toxins and pathogens) and this is similar to a leaky gut.  His course explains how the powerhouse of the cells, the mitochondria go into defense-mode when stressed (lack of sleep, poor inflammatory diet, toxin exposure) which is at the root of inflammation. I will put the link to his course in the show notes, as I have learned so much from Ari, but it was here that I decided I had better watch Jonathan Otto’s documentary if I wanted to get a better understanding of Autoimmune Disease and the gut-brain connection.


I wasn’t even 5 minutes into episode 1 of Jonathan’s Autoimmune Answers and guess who appears as a doctor giving advice? Dr. David Perlmutter who taught me the top 5 health staples with his Alzheimer’s Science of Prevention Documentary[x]. I know that we all know that when we feel “off” we can usually look at the top 5 health staples and see if there’s a starting point to make improvements.  We have covered these staples extensively, but here’s a quick review.

How is your aerobic exercise? John Ratey on EPISODE #116[xi] made a clear case for the connection with aerobic exercise and improved brain structure and function along with fitness expert Luke DePron on EPISODE #90.[xii]

How is your sleep? If you need help here, visit EPISODE #72[xiii] with Dr. Shane Creado on “Sleep Strategies That Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage” or EPISODE #120[xiv] where I share how the Fisher Wallace Medical Device Improve My Sleep.

What about eating a healthy diet? We all can sway towards eating a certain diet, but Dr. Daniel Stickler took diet, nutrition, and our future to a whole new level on EPISODE #96[xv] and Dr. Perlmutter says it loud and clear in EPISODE 1 of Autoimmune Answers that “making good food choices will help us to make better decisions”[xvi] in our everyday lives.

Are you optimizing your microbiome? We will dive into this one today, but Dr. Vuyisich was the first to talk with me about the importance of optimizing our microbiome for reversing chronic disease on EPISODE #93.[xvii]

Have you tried Intermittent Fasting? Ketogenic Diet and Intermittent Fasting Expert Jason Wittrock covers this topic on EPISODE #94.[xviii]

Other than taking probiotics at night, or making sure I’m eating a healthy diet, I don’t pay much attention to optimizing my gut microbiome. Do you? Let me know if there are other ideas that you know of, that can help others.

This brings me to this week’s Brain Fact Friday:

DID YOU KNOW THAT “70-80% of your immune system is found in your gut tissues?” (Dr. Gerenger and Dr. Kan from Autoimmune Answers, explain this in detail saying that many people who feel “off” visit their doctor only to be told that their labs are normal because “the inflammation that began in the gut, has not attacked the glands yet” (Autoimmune Answers, EPISODE 1)[xix] Dr. Daniel Amen (America’s leading psychiatrists and brain health experts) calls our gastrointestinal tract our “second brain”[xx]  that is “lined with about 100 million neurons—more neurons than you have in your spinal cord” and he believes that “when you have problems with your gut, you’re more likely to have mental health issues.”[xxi]

We have also heard before that there does appear to be a hidden relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and the microbiome in our gut and that “an imbalanced gut microbiome (dysbiosis) could lead to Alzheimer’s disease and wider neuroinflammation through the gut-brain-axis. Promoting ‘good bacteria’ relative to ‘bad bacteria’ in the gut may be important in maintaining good digestive, immune and neurological health.”[xxii] This is still a developing field but taking prebiotics and probiotics[xxiii] are the best way to promote a healthy gut/brain balance.

If 70-80% of my immune system is found in my gut tissues, I think it makes sense that I learn as much as I can about optimizing my gut microbiome. I do recommend watching the Autoimmune Answers documentary by Jonathan Otto, but in the meantime, here are my main take-aways from this documentary.

3 Tips for Optimizing the Gut Microbiome to Improve Your Immune System

  1. Know what helps your gut microbiome: Did you know that our gut is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes? This microbiome plays an important role in our health by helping to control digestion and benefitting our immune system. Taking a probiotic daily, remaining active, eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods that disrupt our microbiome[xxiv]
    1.  (processed fried foods, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners), are important for our gut/brain health. This makes sense to me, but I still sometimes forget to take my probiotic at night.  I did learn that taking digestive enzymes were a good idea to help break down your food so that the nutrients could be better absorbed. I’ve been taking digestive enzymes for over 20 years after a trainer said it would be a good idea, but now they have a new purpose. I did learn about the importance of taking fulvic acid to fight inflammation and improve my body’s ability to be resistant to disease, but I haven’t started this one yet.

2. Know what hurts your gut microbiome: Antibiotics were designed to kill bacteria but they also “kill good bacteria in the gut” (Autoimmune Answers EPISODE 1) but so do oral contraceptives, NSAIDS, stress, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and toxins”[xxv] I always think really hard before taking something that I know will have a damaging effect on the health of my body, even if I think it will help me in the short term. I’m not perfect in this area, probably because I can’t see the damage I’m doing so it’s not always easy to make the best decisions here. Even though we sometimes know better, we still do things that we know are not good for us. What I learned from Autoimmune Answers that changed my thought process here a bit was that the stomach lining is “one-cell thick” from Dr. Vincent Pedre from EPSIODE 4[xxvi] so it’s not difficult to damage the lining of our stomach, making it permeable to pathogens that come in and create what is called “leaky gut.”

3. Add Aerobic Exercise: It Fixes Everything. Dr. Perlmutter reminded us that “aerobic exercise increases gut bacterial diversity”[xxvii] Researchers say “they noticed changes in the gut microbiome after six weeks of exercise. The gut makeup returned to normal after the exercise was dropped.”[xxviii] There are so many cases for adding aerobic exercise to your daily routine and now we can add gut health to our list.


When our podcast took the turn towards Health and Wellness at the end of 2020, in addition to the focusing on the science behind social and emotional learning, I decided to launch Brain Fact Fridays—with a goal to provide a brain tip that ties back to how our brain works. If I can also tie this Brain Fact to one of the Top 5 health staples, I think this reinforced, spaced repetition of ideas will be helpful, for all of us. Let me know what you think of this episode. Send me an email to or connect with me through social media.

At the end of last year, we learned how important the top 5 health staples were from Dr. Perlmutter’s Alzheimer’s Science of Prevention Documentary[xxix] but what about Autoimmune Disease? Have you or someone you know just felt “off’ for some reason, and you’ve gone to the doctor, taken some blood tests, and they all come back fine, yet you intuitively know something wasn’t right? This has got to be the most frustrating situation. If you’ve ever had this happen, you will know what I mean, and if you want to watch Jonathan Otto’s Autoimmune Answers, be sure to click the link in the show notes. I am not affiliated to Jonathan Otto in any way, nor is this an affiliate link, I just think his documentary could help someone who is struggling with their health to find some answers.

I’m sure you can see that the implementation of these ideas is important, and what I love about hosting these podcasts (in addition to how much I am learning personally) is hearing that some of these high-level performers, like Dr. Carolyn Leaf, mentions she doesn’t have it all together, all of the time either, and often uses the principles she teaches to help calm her brain and mind down during her work day. When I see these ideas being implemented in this way, I think it makes them more relatable for others who can see that no one is immune from life’s challenges. We will all face challenges, but the key will be—to think—do you have the tools that you need to suffer the inevitable adversity and challenge less, and get back on track so that you get to where you are going in one piece with your physical and mental health intact?

As we are interviewing high-level speakers, working on ways to improve productivity and results in our life, whether we are a teacher in the classroom, or someone looking to take their results to the next level in their workplace, I want to make sure that we all get to where we are going that we have exceptional health when we get there. When I’m sitting at my desk, and look up on my wall, I see a list of values that drive me on a day-to-day basis, and Health is at the top of this list. What would be the point of doing these podcasts, getting excited about the new strategies we are learning and implementing from all these powerful speakers, and hearing about how people around the world are implementing these ideas in their schools, classrooms and workplaces, without addressing the importance of our physical and mental health along the way of this journey.

And with that, I wish you a wonderful weekend! See you next week.


Therapeutic Potential of Fulvic Acid in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Diabetes by John Winkler and Sanjay Ghosh Published Sept.10, 2018

Dr. Peter Kan, DC

Dr. Cathleen Gerenger, DC


[i] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE December 2020 with Andrea Samadi on “The Top 5 Health Staples”

[ii] Podbean’s Wellness Week



[v] BONUS EPISODE with Dr. Carolyn Leaf on “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess”

[vi] (Day 10)

[vii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #143 on “The Secret Language of Cells”




[xi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #116 on “The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”

[xii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #90 with Luke DePron on “Neuroscience, Fitness and Growth”

[xiii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE #72 with Dr. Shane Creado on “Sleep Strategies That Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage”

[xiv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #120 with Andrea Samadi on a “Personal Review of the Fisher Wallace Wearable Medical Device”

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast  EPISODE #96 with Dr. Daniel Stickler on “Expanding Awareness for Limitless Potential” [xv]

[xvi] (EPISODE 1 Dr. Perlmutter)

[xvii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #93 with Dr. Vuyisich on “Improving the Health of Your Microbiome: Reversing Chronic Disease”

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #94 with Jason Wittrock on “Health, Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting and the Ketogenic Diet[xviii]

[xix] (EPISODE 1 with Dr. Cathleen Gerenger, DC and Dr. Peter Kan).

[xx] Does My Gut Affect My Mental Stability? Dr. Daniel Amen October 1, 2019

[xxi] ibid

[xxii] Alzheimer’s Disease and the Microbiome by Oman Shabir

[xxiii] What is the Difference Between a Prebiotic and a Probiotic

[xxiv] 11 Ways Your Life Can Disrupt the Gut Microbiome

[xxv] Does My Gut Affect My Mental Stability? Dr. Daniel Amen October 1, 2019

[xxvi] Autoimmune Answers EPISODE 4 Dr. Vincent Pedre

[xxvii] Autoimmune Answers EPISODE 4 Dr/ Perlmutter

[xxviii] Researchers Say Exercise Also Improves Your Gut Bacteria Written by Elizabeth Pratt, September 24, 2018,reason%20to%20exercise%2C%20try%20this.