“No magic fairy or superhero is going to arrive at your door with a kit to make you healthy now and forever. We will have to be proactive in taking care of our biology and our psychology.” That’s from Dr. Andrew Huberman, promoting Inside Tracker,[i] a personal health and data-driven wellness guide, designed to help us to live healthier, and longer.
While I don’t use Inside Tracker, I support Dr. Huberman’s work enough to put his link to this service below in the show notes because the time is NOW to look after our health and wellness at the highest level possible, and that means with ALL the tools that help us to take control of our own health. Guessing about our health, is a now thing of the past.
Welcome back to The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast, where we connect the science-based evidence behind social and emotional learning (that’s finally being taught in our schools today) and emotional intelligence training (used in our modern workplaces) for improved well-being, achievement, productivity and results—using what I saw as the missing link (since we weren’t taught this when we were growing up in school), the application of practical neuroscience. I’m Andrea Samadi, an author, and an educator with a passion for learning and launched this podcast 5 years ago with the goal of bringing ALL the leading experts together (in one place) to uncover the most current research that would back up how the brain learns best, taking us ALL to new, and often unimaginable heights.
For today’s episode #304, and preparing for our interview next week with returning guest Dr. Gregory Kelly from NeuroHacker.com while also keeping with our Season Theme of Going Back to the Basics, we are going back to a series of episodes we did on “Boosting Our Immunity by Optimizing Our Gut Microbiome”[ii] that began with Dr. Vuyisich on EP #93[iii] back in October 2020, when our podcast took the turn towards health and wellness. This was the first time I became aware of how important it was to understand our gut microbiome for our health. Many things Dr. Vuyisich said in that interview stayed with me over the years, but one was something I couldn’t forget. He warned listeners that if they take away one thing from our interview that it be this. He said “today, we have 100% of the science and technology needed to prevent every chronic disease and every cancer.” (Momo Vuyisich).
REVIEWING THE GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION
Dr. Vuyishic’s episode (along with many of the other interviews we did at that time) helped me to create the vision for our Top Health Staples and Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategies[iv] that we covered on a BONUS EP 3 years ago. We started with five, and after reviewing them with the top experts in the health and wellness industry, over the years, we added a sixth.
What’s interesting while revisiting this episode we recorded 3 years ago with Dr. Vuyisich, is that I told him back then that while I understood the importance of taking probotics (friendly gut bacteria that keeps my digestion running well) to balance my gut microbiome, and I knew of the importance of prebiotics (or the superfoods that help them to flourish from Dr. Amen’s[v] work) giving me more energy and focus. But while watching Dr. Vuyisich’s interview again, I realized that 3 years later, I still don’t completely understand the gut-brain axis, and I know that I’m not as focused as I could be on optimizing my own gut microbiome.
This is also coming from someone who discovered during a regular colonoscopy screening that I’m high risk for colon cancer, so I go back for these checkups more often than most people. This brings me back to why I’m doing these podcast episodes in the first place. If I’m not implementing the ideas that I’m learning from each expert, there’s not much point in me preparing questions, conducting these interviews, highlighting their expert suggestions that we edit, and put out to the world. I realized how important reviewing these past episodes are, going back to the basics, for myself personally, to be sure I’m actually living the strategies these experts have suggested over the years.
On this interview with Dr. Vuyisich we reviewed the gut-brain connection, and how he overcame the debilitating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by fixing his own gut-brain axis, and then I shared how cutting out sugar years ago, helped me to completely reverse a fertility condition I was diagnosed with in my 20s, called PCOS. Since cutting out sugar worked so well for me, I thought that if everyone just cuts out sugar and adds fish oil to their diet that they also would be able to reverse this condition, but Dr. Vuyisich reminded me that everyone is different. We all must take control of our health, and understand what it is that moves the needle for us individually towards health and wellness, and in today’s episode this starts by understanding our own gut-brain axis.
HOW DR. VUYISICH REVERSED HIS OWN CHRONIC DISEASE
Dr. Vuyisich explained that when he was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, he was told “you are going to suffer” but you can take these drugs that will slow down the disease and he decided to take his background as a microbiologist and biochemist to understand his own health, and after reversing his disease that he was told there was no cure, he created the company Viome.com to help others to do the same and prevent the frustration that comes along with first of all trying to figure out what is “off” when we don’t feel right, and then creating a scientifically proven solution with his products.
THE SECRET: IS THAT YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
It all begins with understanding our gut-brain connection.
He says “we don’t know the secret to our diseases because chronic diseases are not genetic. They’re mostly environmental, they’re impacted by diet and lifestyle. So the microbiome plays a major role in whether that’s oral microbiome, our gut microbiome, all of those microbiomes play a major role in our health. And then the nutrition plays a massive role in our health.”
HOW CAN THIS UNDERSTANDING REVERSE CHRONIC ILLNESS?
Dr. Vuyisich explained that his focus with Viome was that they studied how certain foods would trigger the immune system and cause what we know to be called Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as one example. He shared how the foods that were being ingested would produce biochemicals that would cause IBS symptoms, that next caused inflammation that led to other symptoms like depression and anxiety, and that every person is different, so at Viome a person is tested to first of all find out their food sensitivities that are the root cause of these other symptoms.
It’s such a frustrating journey, especially if you are on it yourself, to not be able to figure out why you don’t feel right. Dr. V didn’t feel well himself, leading him to look closer at the gut-brain connection, and I mentioned that I reversed a health condition by changing my diet, when I didn’t feel right, leading me to think that my solution would work for everyone, but he reminded me that we are all on our own health journey, and it begins by taking control of our own personal journey by looking for the root cause of whatever it is that’s causing the other symptoms we might be having. My symptoms were that my feet were going numb while exercising.
- If you think about your overall health, can you use your self-awareness to pick out if there’s something you might eat (or drink) makes you feel off in some way. I’m very clear with what makes me feel off, and how when I stop these certain foods, I’m left feeling a heightened level of clarity from this decision. Can YOU think of anything you could change to give YOU more clarity?
GETTING PAST THE FRUSTRATION: USING OUR “GUT”
While writing this episode, I thought of someone I know who travelled a bit this summer, and on one of those trips he felt off. He went to the doctor and was told “It sounds like IBS” and he was handed a list of foods to eat instead of his usual diet.
This just didn’t seem to be the right answer, so instead of going this route, he followed his “gut” instinct and went to a naturopathic doctor who said “before we jump to conclusions for saying you have IBS, let’s try one other thing” and he gave him an antibiotic and told him to try that, just in case he picked up a parasite while traveling. Sure enough, a week later, all of his symptoms were gone. He didn’t have IBS, and he could have spent so many frustrating hours changing his diet to figure this all out.
The key here is that what works for one person, might not be the answer for everyone, but it’s up to us to get to the root cause of the symptoms in our own health journey. We’ve got to listen to our intuition and self-awareness in our own journey and understand that we really are what we eat. The foods we eat can drastically impact how we feel.
PREPARING TO SPEAK WITH DR. GREGORY KELLY: I thought: What are probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics?
While preparing our interview questions for returning guest Dr. Gregory Kelly, next week, I watched some of his recent interviews, specifically one he recently did about the Gut-Brain Connection[vi] and I realized I had some background work to do. In this interview he did, and preparing for ours next week where we will be talking about Qualia Synbiotic, which is the next generation of probiotics, he opens up his interview by explaining about probiotics (that most people know about since probiotics is the #1 category in the supplement industry–known as the friendly gut bacteria that keep my digestion running well to balance my gut microbiome, and prebiotics (there’s a growing awareness of). I first heard of prebiotics from Dr. Daniel Amen who shares that these are the energy superfoods that help our brain, and he interviewed Dr. Shawn Stevenson back in 2021 on his book Eat Smarter: Use the Power of Food to Reboot Your Metabolism, Upgrade Your Brain, and Transform Your Life. [vii] This book is eye-opening for anyone to read if you want to see his journey and pathway of healing where he realized at an early age how debilitating chronic conditions and illnesses can be. I picked up Dr. Stevenson’s book to see why Dr. Amen thought so highly of him, and I saw it right away. If ANYONE knows about prebiotics (or the best foods to eat) it’s this guy.
He talked about his childhood where he didn’t eat right due to his family situation, and how when he became an athlete later in life, his body eventually broke down from his prior years of poor nutrition, and he was FORCED to learn about the power of taking his own health into his own hands. He said:
Reading his book taught me many lessons, and opened my eyes to how I could eat better, and more variety of foods, because just like with exercise, variety is good for our gut. He’s got a NEW book coming out next month you can get on pre-order now, The Eat Smarter Family Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes to Transform your Health, Happiness and Connection.[viii]
So now I’m understanding probiotics, and prebiotics, but Dr. Kelly mentioned postbiotics, and until now, I hadn’t heard of this term.
I found some complex definitions, but to make it plain and simple: “probiotics consist of living microorganisms, while postbiotics are non-living, though still effective”[ix] and come from fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso, kefir, and sourdough bread.
ANDREW HUBERMAN’S THOUGHTS ON “HOW TO ENHANCE YOUR GUT MICROBIOME FOR BRAIN AND OVERALL HEALTH.”[x]
As soon as I saw that postbiotics were fermented foods, I had to go back to Dr. Andrew Huberman’s work, because he covered this topic in a through 2 hour episode that explained how we get cues from our gut to our brain, how our gut controls our overall health, what is a healthy gut, and specific foods that enhance our microbiota diversity, including fermented foods. I’ll never forget this episode because now I’ve made the connection to what postbiotics are, as I recall him explaining how he’s added these foods into his own diet. He even focused on the phenomenon of “gut feelings” and how the gut communicates with the brain “through the peripheral nervous system.” (Huberman Lab EP 61, How to Enhance Your Gut Microbiome).
He says “our gut feelings are not mere metaphors. The gut houses neurons and communicates with our brain, influencing our thoughts and feelings” and that “by understanding our gut-brain axis, we open up to a new vista of potential interventions for conditions like anxiety, depression, autism, and even neurodegenerative diseases.”
This is fascinating to me!
REVIEW AND CONCLUSION:
Now I know I’m ready to speak with Dr. Kelly next week.
On today’s EPISODE #304 on “A Deeper Dive into Understanding Our Gut-Brain Axis for Improved Physical and Mental Health” we covered:
✔ The importance of taking control of our own health.
✔ The Gut-Brain Connection with Dr. Vuyusich and how we really are what we eat.
✔ How Dr. Vuyusich reversed his chronic illness by changing what he eats.
✔ What are probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics?
✔ A look at Dr. Shawn Stephenson’s book Eat Smarter and NEW Cookbook coming our next month.
✔ What does Dr. Andrew Huberman say we should know about our gut-brain connection?
✔ How can we take better control of our own health and wellness with this understanding of the Gut-Brain Connection?
PUT THESE CONCEPTS INTO ACTION FOR A HEALTHIER FUTURE:
- 1. USE YOU OWN SELF-AWARENESS: Since we are all different, can you think of something that you eat that makes you feel “off” in some way? Maybe it creates mental fog, or something, just pay attention to WHAT it is, and see what happens if you eliminate that one thing.
- 2. THINK THAT WE REALLY ARE WHAT WE EAT: By understanding that the foods we eat can either greatly influence the diversity and health of our gut microbiome, or completely throw it off into a state of imbalance, called dysbiosis, this can help us to make healthier food choices. While reading Dr. Shawn Stevenson’s book, I learned that eating the same foods over and over again doesn’t help me with the diversity needed for my gut microbiome. Switch up what I’m eating often and remember that “every cell in our body is made out of the food we eat, and more astonishingly, what we eat controls every action that our cells take.” (Shawn Stevenson).
- 3. PREVENTING CHRONIC ILLNESS STARTS HERE: Research does show that “the gut microbiome might be a factor in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s (Dr. Huberman EP 61) so If I really am on a mission to prevent chronic illness in myself, my family and others, understanding our gut-brain connection is the first step.
- 4. KEEP LEARNING: As more research is made available, the gut-brain connection could be a key intervention for our mental and physical health.
With that thought, I’ll close out this episode as I now feel ready to speak with Dr. Gregory Kelly next week on his one-of-a-kind formula, Neurohacker’s Qualia Synbiotic that he will explain supports our gut, brain and mood all at the same time, as ALL 3 probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics have been added into this one formula to work symbiotically.
I can’t wait to share his thoughts on why this was such an important product to create, with his vision for health and wellness for the world and our future, since we all are very clear that the time is NOW to take control of our own mental and physical health.
I’ll see you next weekend!
EBOOK SCRIPT of INTERVIEW #93 with Dr. Momo Vuyisich https://designrr.site/?i=s91w&t=e54e64&page=32
Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast Interview #93 with Dr. Momo Vuyisich https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/dr-momo-vuyisich-on-improving-the-health-of-your-microbiome-preventing-and-reversing-chronic-disease/
The Gut-Brain Connection Published July 28, 2023 https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection
[v] Your Microbiome: The Role of Probiotics and Prebiotics with Shawn Stevenson Feb. 2 2021 https://www.amenclinics.com/podcast/your-microbiome-the-role-of-probiotics-and-prebiotics-with-shawn-stevenson/
[vi] The Fascinating Power of the Gut-Brain Axis with The Neurohacker Science Team https://neurohacker.com/synbiotic-neurohacker-science-team-gut-brain
[vii] Eat Smarter: Use the Power of Food to Reboot Your Metabolism, Upgrade Your Brain, and Transform Your Life by Shawn Stevenson published Dec 29,2020 https://www.amazon.com/Eat-Smarter-Metabolism-Upgrade-Transform-ebook/dp/B07W3M55SP
[viii] The Eat Smarter Family Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes to Transform your Health, Happiness and Connection.
[ix] Prebiotics vs Probiotics vs Postbiotics: What’s the Difference? By Keri Gans June 13, 2023 https://www.forbes.com/health/body/prebiotics-probiotics-postbiotics/#:~:text=ISAPP%20defines%20postbiotics%20as%20%E2%80%9Ca,%2Dliving%2C%20although%20still%20effective.