Dr Will Bulsiewicz – Optimise Your Gut With a Plant-Based Program

Content by: Will Bulsiewicz

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Dr Will Bulsiewicz back to the show. Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. Dr. Bulsiewicz is a board certified gastroenterologist and gut health expert. With 14 years as an MD using the latest in cutting edge medical research. He helps patients face their health goals and challenges head on and achieve incredible results. In this episode, we discussed the fundamentals of gut health and dig deep into his new book, Fiber Fueled. The book, amongst other things, outlines how we can lose weight, ditch the diet, and transform our health by optimizing our gut microbiome.

Audio Version

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Questions we ask in this episode:

  • What are the most obvious signs of an imbalanced gut?
  • What are your thoughts on elimination diets… grains in particular?
  • Is all fibre created equal?

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Full Transcript

Stu

00:00:03 Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the health sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of superfoods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180nutrition.com.edu and take a look. Okay. Back to the show.

00:00:44 This week I’m excited to welcome Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. Dr. Bulsiewicz is a board certified gastroenterologist and gut health expert. With 14 years as an MD using the latest in cutting edge medical research. He helps patients face their health goals and challenges head on and achieve incredible results. In this episode, we discussed the fundamentals of gut health and dig deep into his new book, Fiber Fueled. The book, amongst other things, outlines how we can lose weight, ditch the diet, and transform our health by optimizing our gut microbiome. Over to Dr. Bulsiewicz.

00:01:25 Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 nutrition and I’m delighted to welcome Dr. Will Bulsiewicz to the podcast. Dr. Bulsiewicz, how are you?

Will

00:01:35 I’m doing fantastic, Stu. It’s a pleasure to connect with you from the other side of the world. We’re all immersed in this COVID-19 crisis right now, but it turns out that now is a great time to double down on health. Now is a great time to double down on gut health.

Stu

00:01:54 Yes.

Will

00:01:54 I don’t think it’s ever been as important as it is right now.

Stu

00:01:57 I think so. I think so, and probably never been a better time to dial in and listen to some podcasts as well because you’re likely going to be at home. You’re going to have a little bit more free time and feeling that you want to empower yourself with the right thing. So, first up for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, I’d just love it if you could tell everybody a little bit about yourself please.

Will

00:02:23 Oh, happy to. So, I am a board certified gastroenterologist in the United States, so that means that I’m practicing, seeing people with digestive issues. That’s what I do for a living. That’s my full time job. All this stuff that you find that about me, for example, I have an Instagram account called the gut health MD with a large following. I’ve written a book called Fiber Fueled, which by the way Stu, I just want to mention that somehow I managed to pick out two words that are spelled differently in Australia than in the United States.

Stu

00:02:57 Yes, you did. Yes you did.

Will

00:03:03 I love my friends in Australia. My brother actually used to live up in the Gold Coast. So, I feel a little bad about that. But just so you guys know, it’s spelled F-I-B-E-R F-U-E-L-E-D, just one L in fueled and the fiber is E-R instead of R-E. So, you see these things, my point being, you see these things, my Instagram account, my book, my website, the [inaudible 00:03:32].com, and some people think that’s what I do for a living and it’s not. I am a full time doctor, I take care of patients, I see them in my clinic. These are people with digestive issues and that clinic is also my, in a way, almost a laboratory where I am looking for solutions for people. This is what I spend my days on is trying to find ways to improve people’s gut health so that they have less disease, less symptoms, and ultimately better health throughout their entire body. That’s what I’m here to talk about today. That’s what my book is about.

Stu

00:04:11 Fantastic. Looking forward to it, and many of us now are very aware of the importance of good health, nurturing a healthy digestive system. Wasn’t the case 10 years ago when the term leaky gut was a little bit woo-woo. Nobody really knew why we should be nurturing a good gut, and some of us still don’t understand the importance of that. So, I’m interested then from your perspective as to the question, why is the health of our gut so very important?

Will

00:04:40 Oh wow. So, let me start here and say, I don’t care who you are. This should matter to you. That’s because whether you’re in health or not, the path to better health throughout your entire body really truly starts in the gut. The reason why is it’s more than just a digestion. Don’t get me wrong, digestion is important, but this has a profound impact on our metabolism, meaning if you’re overweight, this is affecting that. If you have type two diabetes, this is affecting that. This has a huge effect on our immune system. Has immune health ever been more important than it is right now? 70% of the immune system is in your gut. You can’t separate the gut from the immune system. They’re completely intertwined. Our hormone levels. Women who have endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome, loss of hormonal balance. That comes back to the gut.

00:05:41 We have studies showing that now. Our mood. Our mood, our ability to focus anxiety, depression, ADD, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, every single one of these neurologic conditions, these brain conditions, have been connected back to our gut. Then perhaps the most powerful but the least actual tangible thing. It’s kind of hard to visualize this, but I want people to imagine how powerful this is. We each have our genetic code, but we, for a very long time, did not understand why your genetic code did not fully explain your health history. Why can’t we just look at your genes, Stu and say this is what’s going to happen to you in 60 years or something like that? We’re not able to do that, and the reason why is because of epigenetics and because your gut is able to basically flip the switch on your genes. Your gut has control over the expression of your genes and that is insanely powerful if you think about it. So, all of these things come back to the gut. It’s health throughout the entire body from your brain all the way down to the bottom.

Stu

00:06:55 Absolutely. Absolutely. Right. So, I’m just going to tell you a little story. A couple of years ago I had jumped on an airplane and in the inflight magazine there was a whole page dedicated to the thyroid and it said, “Do you have a thyroid problem? Check the symptoms against how you feel right now. Do any of the match up to what you’re experiencing? If so, then maybe you have an issue with your thyroid and you need to contact us.” The page was so long and extensive and it covered absolutely everything that I would imagine that every single person on the airplane would read that and think, I have a thyroid problem. Whether it was skin, bloating, fatigue, weight gain, weight loss. It covered everything. So, are we able to pick out and identify perhaps the most obvious signs that would indicate that we do have an imbalance in our gut or is it not that easy?

Will

00:07:55 Well, it would be easier if we had a reliable test. We are not in a place yet where I would say that we have that. We have information, people can get their gut microbiome analyzed and frankly the price is ridiculously low when you can consider that this used to cost like a more than a million dollars to do not that long ago. But we don’t have a reliable test to tell us whether or not we have dysbiosis, which is the word that I would use for a leaky gut. What we do have is this, this is the way that I approach this issue, Stu. A person comes into my clinic. They have digestive issues, these are chronic digestive issues. I’m not talking about the person who eats pizza and drinks a beer and gets a little bit of acid reflux.

00:08:44 That’s every single man on the planet. What I’m talking about is the person who has chronic ongoing digestive issues that affect their quality of life, and in addition to that, many times, what I will find is some of these conditions that I’ve already named, whether it be anxiety, depression, sometimes migraine headaches. It could be an autoimmune disorder, like an autoimmune thyroid like Hashimoto’s, celiac disease, whatever. You just go down the line and what I see time after time, is the person comes through the doors of my clinic and they’re there to see me with their digestive issue, and then I tell them, “Oh, by the way, this other medical issue that you have, your rheumatoid arthritis, this may get better with us fixing your gut.”

00:09:33 Many times that’s a part of the story that’s kind of exciting is look, I’m a digestive specialist, I’m a gut health guy, all right? My job is not to fix autoimmune issues. My job is not to fix a neurologic issue. There’s other doctors for that. But if you come to me for your gut health issue and I can fix those other things, then I sure as hell I’m going to be celebrating, I’ll tell you that much. So would you as the patient, because we found the root of the problem.

Stu

00:10:02 It’s fascinating. I’ve personally been through a number of rounds of microbiome testing and then followed a protocol to change what I eat and been very, very surprised at the outcome in terms of other things changing for the better that I wouldn’t have even associated with gut health. So, it’s testament to what you’re saying. It’s just so powerful. It’s well worth exploring in more detail, for sure.

Will

00:10:31 It’s a tide that rises. It’s a tide that rises when you optimize your gut. This is the reason why I said right off the top that I don’t care who you are. This should still matter. I’m lucky because I wasn’t that healthy 10 years ago. I gained 20 kilograms, 50 pounds.

Stu

00:10:49 Wow.

Will

00:10:51 I had high blood pressure, anxiety problems, severe fatigue. I was smashing energy drinks and a couple cups of coffee a day. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I was in this rigorous medical training program. I was about 30 years old and I was in a rigorous medical training program and working sometimes 30 hours in a row nonstop. So, my health got away from me and I managed to fix my health and get it back through the principles that I detail in the book.

00:11:22 It worked for me and I lost the 20 kilograms. I got back to my high school weight and here I am and I’m 40 and I feel younger than I did at 30. I get asked more often whether or not I’m old enough to be a doctor, which I’ll take. It’s a compliment. The point is that for me, this journey, what it’s taught me is that not only is this powerful, but now here I am and I’m 40 and I want someday to be 80 and enjoying time with my grandkids and be able to look back at this experience and say, you know what? I’m so glad that I invested into my health. As a result of that, not only did I make myself healthy, but I sustained that health through the years, my 40’s, my 50’s, my 60’s, and keep going. That’s what I want. I really truly feel like there’s this path that exists, and even if you’re in health right now, you should look for that way to optimize and level up, which I think is what 180 nutrition is really about.

Stu

00:12:29 Absolutely. So yeah, we’re about living our best lives. So, essentially finding and discovering the information that works for you, that makes you curious, that helps you find whatever it is, whatever the sweet spot is for you, across all of the pillars of health, that just enables you to feel vibrant and full of vigor and energy for as long as you possibly can. It’s that health span rather than lifespan. We we want to be doing what we’re doing now when we’re 90.

Will

00:13:05 Exactly.

Stu

00:13:06 Yeah, I’m with you. So, I was going to ask about your book a little later, but I think now is a great time given that you’ve just told your story. So, Fiber Fueled no doubt details a lot of the stuff then that you went through when you were making this change from the supposed almost burnout, which is just crazy. Coming from medical industry, it just seems like you’re burning out your trainee doctors before you even then push them out into the workspace to then treat people who are burnt out and tired, et cetera, all of the above. How ironic. So, what can we expect then from the book Fiber Fueled?

Will

00:13:53 So, here’s what you can expect. Let me start here. I am a science nerd. I can’t help it. It’s who I am, and so when I sat down to write this book, I knew it had to be a celebration of science. It had to be because at the end of the day, if the science is not there, I’m not on board. So, even with me and my personal journey, if the science did not back it up, it would be hard for me to buy. I’ll say that. So this book is about … It’s got scientific underpinnings. It’s got over 600 references. But what I really, truly hope is that when people read it, they don’t feel like they’re reading a science book or a textbook. I want them to feel like they’re having a conversation with me over coffee. We’re hanging out and it’s just two buddies, two friends, and I’m sharing with you the knowledge that I have from my years of experience as a gastroenterologist and having lived through these things myself and then brought some of these ideas into my clinic and seen my patients heal as a result of these ideas. So that’s what I’m sharing with you in this book, and it is gut health. It is the real deal. It is shocking, I think, at times that this can be real. It’s borderline science fiction at times. It is the, from my perspective, legitimate path to optimizing your gut microbiome. I really truly believe that this is the way to do it, and that’s what you’re going to find when you read this book. I’ll be honest with you, Stu, when I went to get quotes of support from other people for my book, I was actually blown away by the response that I got from people because it was the first time that I had shared it outside of my immediate family. Your family’s going to tell you your book’s great.

Stu

00:15:51 Yeah, of course.

Will

00:15:53 But when I shared this outside of my family with other scientists, people that I respect, people that I was learning from them, and they reacted to it in a very positive way and said, “This is what it’s about,” that to me was … I don’t think my publisher cared about it as much as I did. To me, that was what I really wanted, I wanted the scientists to look at my book and be like, this is legitimate. This is legitimate science. That’s part of what excites me about it.

Stu

00:16:25 So, from a dietary perspective then, because typically, I guess one of the most fundamental foundations for any of us to be able to attach ourselves to when we’re thinking about nurturing our gut health is to be mindful of what we put in our mouths, change the food that we eat. So, what type, style, variation of diet have you found to be the most beneficial for nurturing our gut health?

Will

00:16:59 Well,

00:17:00 Well, I think that it starts with this simple idea. There is a relationship between these microbes that live inside of us and globally our food, but specifically the fiber. There is something unique about the fiber that it passes all the way through the small intestine to enter into the large intestine, the colon, and it is consumed by these microbes. This is their food. They eat it. That’s why I call it fiber fuels. Because you are fueling the microbiome, you are energizing it with the fiber. The book is really a celebration of that simple relationship, which is that your gut needs fiber to thrive. In the United States, and I think that this is also true in Australia, but perhaps not quite as bad. You guys are not quite as extreme as we are when it comes to diet. But in the United States, literally 97% are not getting the minimal amount of fiber in their diet.

Stu

00:18:00 Huge.

Will

00:18:01 When we try to do fiber studies, one of the ways, one of the approaches that we’ll take when we do a fiber study is to get a whole group of people, let’s say we get 500 people, and we’ll take the top fiber consumers, the top 125, and we’ll compare them to the bottom 125, the least-fiber consumers. And what we find is the least bottom consumers are obscene in the minimal amount of fiber. It’s so little, it’s ridiculous. What’s really disappointing is the high-fiber consumers are not even hitting the mark of the daily recommendation. The high-fiber consumers are not even getting the minimal amount of recommended fiber in their diet. And you’ll see this if you look at fiber studies, you’ll see what I just described, you’ll see this to be true, is that many times they can’t get enough patients who actually even get the minimal amount of fiber.

00:18:51 You’ll see that there are an average of less than 25 grams per day, even in the high fiber group. We have this deficiency that I believe exists. It’s a deficiency that I believe is harming our gut microbiome. I want to bring attention to this deficiency. And how we choose to implement that? I’m going to tell you that I myself personally I’m 100% whole foods plant-based. And that has worked for me. I don’t know how you personally eats, Stu, but if you and I were having conversation or in reading this book, the message that I want to get across to you is not that you have no choice. The message that I want to get across to you is I want to meet you where you are. I want to show you this path that I believe will guide you to better gut health.

00:19:41 And then I want to give you the wiggle room to implement this in the way that you feel is best for you. Let’s pretend that you eat a paleo diet. Perhaps you do. Let’s pretend that you eat a paleo diet. I think a paleo diet can be an incredibly healthy diet. You don’t need to necessarily go 100% whole foods plant-based diet. And I think that there’s some people who eat a vegan diet that are clearly less healthy than being a paleo diet. But there are some principles in the book that I want to have a conversation about when it comes to the paleo diet because I’m hoping that I can convince you to modify your Paleo diet in some little ways, some little tweaks, and that I think will really truly have a positive effect on your gut microbiome and guide you to better health.

Stu

00:20:24 Brilliant. You’ve mentioned 25 grams of fiber. As the minimum, or the standard was that?

Will

00:20:32 Well, that’s the minimum for women, and for men it’s 38. But even men, men are getting… In the United States, the average woman gets about 15 grams of fiber, and the average man gets 17.

Stu

00:20:42 Okay. If we to meet the minimum requirements, what would that look like then from a food perspective? What would I need to see on my food? Perhaps if I wanted to eat all that fiber at once, how can I visualize that so then I can try and ensure that I consume something along these lines every day?

Will

00:21:03 I think that it’s quite simple. First of all, I like to think of it in terms of… I don’t even personally count grams of fiber for myself. Let me come clean and say that. I have no clue how many grams of fiber that I have.

Stu

00:21:18 Got it.

Will

00:21:19 What I count are two things that I’m looking at. One thing is what percent plant-based are you in terms of your calories. In the United States right now, the average person is 10% plant-based. They’re 10% plant-based. They are 30% meat, dairy, and eggs, and they are 60% processed food. They’re getting six times more calories from processed food which is trash than they are from actual food grown in the earth. The American diet has already left me with the entire opportunity for improvement. If you go from 10 to 30, I think we’ve made progress. But I think we can do a lot better than that, and I would love to see people go from 30 to 50, and 50 to 70. And to me, ultimately, in what I describe in the book is I like to see people ultimately settle in somewhere in the range of close to 90% plant-based. Now that doesn’t mean that you have… You don’t have to be 100% if you don’t want to.

00:22:21 I honestly believe that if you were 90% plant-based, you can do whatever the heck you want with that last 10% and you’re still going to have a super healthy diet. The other thing that I look at, Stu, is and this is a core philosophy in the book, this is one of the big takeaways from this podcast that I want people listening at home to take home and that is that I don’t care who you are, what diet that you eat. There is one very, very basic rule. I call it the golden rule in the book for gut health. They did a study, it’s called the American Gut Project, but it’s actually an international effort around the world. The largest study from anywhere in the world to correlate the health of our microbiome to diet and lifestyle. They did this analysis, not to try to prove a specific point. They just want to know what pops out.

00:23:14 Let’s put it into the machine. Let the machine tell us what is the single greatest predictor of a healthy gut. And there was one thing that popped out. The single greatest predictor of a healthy gut is the diversity of plants in your diet. And that was actually far more powerful than any sort of label that we would apply, including veganism or vegetarian. It was far more powerful to look at the diversity of plants in a person’s diet. So now if you think about what is a traditional human diet, people can debate this all day long. And the reason why they’re going to debate it is because there is no one ancestral diet. It was wherever you lived, you ate off the land. You have to eat off the ecosystem that you lived in. So if you were in the Arctic, it was different than if you live in Africa.

00:24:06 I think it’s interesting to look at some of the tribes that exist in 2020 that perhaps will not still exist 30 years from now that are living an ancestral lifestyle. And so you look at the Hadza, they are in Tanzania in Africa, and they are actually pre-agriculture. They are traditional hunters and gatherers. Look at their microbiome, and here’s what you’re going to find. One of the guys who actually recommends my book, Justin Sonnenberg, he’s the one who was doing all these studies. You look at their microbiome, right off the bat, boom, 30% more diversity than a person in the UK. 40% more diversity than the US. Diversity is a measure of health within the microbiome. The more biodiversity in the microbiome, the better you are.

00:25:01 They have this diversity that is off the charts compared to us. And they started asking questions. So what’s the deal? They are hunters and gatherers. They eat meat, they eat plants. These tribes of people consume more than a hundred grams of fiber per day. In terms of diversity of plants… Let me ask you a question. Just out of curiosity, Stu. It’s not to put you on the spot at all. If you have to give me a number, how many plants in a week do you think that you eat? What would you say?

00:25:38 Look, I do it a lot. So typically, 65% of my plate will be plants. I’m mindful. I’m not Joe Public because I’ve been through the microbiome studies and I’ve had DNA tested. I know what I should be looking at, or at least I’ve got a guide as to where I should be. I’m aware of diversity and I go out of my way to include things that I typically wouldn’t ever have purchased in terms of the radical fruits and vegetables that I would have always just walked by. So yeah, six out of 10 things that go in my mouth are plants.

Will

00:26:24 So what I’m hearing is you already are living a l- I mean, you just naturally have gravitated towards some of the principles that I am basically I’m laying out in this book.

Stu

00:26:34 Yes.

Will

00:26:35 Let’s pretend that you are a high achiever, and a high achiever would mean that you have 50 different plants in your diet in a week. That would be a lot right by our standards. In the study, just to share, people were considered to have a high diversity if they got more than 30. I wouldn’t stop at 30, you go more. The more the merrier. But just to put this into perspective, to have 50 with our food systems is a lot of diversity. And the Hadza, when they studied them, found that they were eating 600 varieties of plants. 600 varieties of plants.

00:27:15 There’s the biodiversity that exists on our planet. There’re literally are 300,000 edible plants, believe it or not. We consume, most of us, only about 50 of them if that during our lifetime. And if you look at our food systems, they’re getting 75% of our calories from tree. This idea of diversity of plants, I think part of the reason why it becomes very important is, yes, this is the number one predictor of a healthy gut. But the second part is if you are not intentional about this, it’s not going to happen by accident because our food system actually doesn’t want you to eat this way. You have to be intentional about this.

Stu

00:28:05 Yeah. Exactly. I can see how you could, the majority of us could very easily be following the corn, wheat, and soy route with the majority of the calories they eat. You’re talking about the Hadza, and I’m interested in external factors that may not give us the best opportunity for our gut health to flourish. I’m thinking along the terms of things like C-sections at birth, and then antibiotics from childhood. Whenever we’ve got anything wrong with us, we’ll jump on the antibiotics and we’ll fix that. And then, standard Australian, American diet that pushes us into the processed food route, things along those lines. How important do you see being mindful of external factors like antibiotic use and anything outside of that is on the importance of our gut health? What do you think?

Will

00:29:17 I think it’s critically important. I think that you can repair your gut. I think you can repair your gut with your diet and your lifestyle. And we can elaborate on what that looks like. But the problem is this. If we think about our great grandparents, go back a hundred years and think about their life just a hundred years ago, I’m not even talking about 10,000 years ago with the Hadza. I’m talking about a hundred years ago. There was very, very little processed foods. It was extremely rare to eat at a restaurant, that was a truly special event. All the cooking was at home. Everything was locally sourced. It never came from the other side of the world. Everything was locally sourced. Processed foods were borderline nonexistent. Very, very little in terms of processed foods.

00:30:08 And then lifestyle, cars didn’t exist, or very few people had them. You had to get around by being outdoors. You had to get around by using your legs, you had to actually move your body. The television did not exist. People spent a lot more time outdoors. Activities were designed around the outdoors as opposed to being inside with Netflix or a remote in your hand. And you think about all of those things that have changed, and you think about even for example, I went off talking about the way that my body changed when I was in my medical training program.

00:30:47 We force this idea of what 21st century life is on people. We force this on people. You’re not allowed to sleep. You have to work really hard. You have stress in your life, deal with it, suck it up. You’re not strong enough if you’re not dealing with stress. Oh by the way, you don’t have time to cook your own meals. So guess what? We’re going to put it in package and you can throw it in a microwave and it makes it super, super easy for you. You know what? Our government. And this is true in the United States, I don’t know how true it is in Australia. Our government will subsidize the junk food. We’re going to make going into McDonald’s so cheap that the person who lives in the poor community would never fathom the idea of diversity of plants because their middle child is desperately begging to go to McDonald’s, and that’s cheaper. It’s happier eatIng that. So why would you not do that? All of these things feed into damage to the gut microbiome.

00:31:46 Antibiotics, 100%. You take one course of antibiotics for five days, and years later we can still see the effect of that antibiotic in your gut. When I see people in my clinic… Because I’m the specialist who’s not seeing the mild stuff, I’m seeing the people with the severe stuff. When I see people in my clinic, I often will ask them, “Tell me, did you have a history of sinus issues?” which would require antibiotics. “Did you ever have an acne problem? You ever put on an antibiotic for that, or Accutane?” Birth control. In my female patients, “How about birth control?” Proton pump inhibitors, the most widely prescribed drugs for acid reflux that exist and they’re not good for the gut microbiome. And then you touched on childhood. Let me just touch on this real quick on this because it’s a fascinating topic. When a child is born, it’s the closest they will ever be to sterile.

00:32:50 And it’s a complete opportunity to feed their gut and start to build a healthy gut right from the first moments of birth. And that’s what happens when you pass through a woman’s birth canal. When you choose, well, not choose, because let me be honest, both of my children were born by C-section. We didn’t want to be that way. We didn’t choose it. It happens. But when a child is born by a C-section, you already see very quickly that their microbiome is different. From that point, it actually starts to resemble the skin microbiome.

Stu

00:33:26 Fascinating.

Will

00:33:28 There’s all these adaptations that occur within a woman’s vagina in the third trimester of pregnancy that are fascinating. Some of these things, Stu, with children and the microbiome start to show you how powerfully nature really wants to foster this relationship for us. Nature really wants us to have a healthy gut. A woman’s vagina will actually change to resemble her gut microbiome. Vagina has a microbiome. It has a microbiome,

00:34:00 And it’s a very simple microbiome, okay? But in the third trimester it will actually change to start to resemble their gut microbiome so that when the child passes through the birth canal what they receive is not similar to a vaginal microbiome. It’s similar to a gut microbiome. That’s crazy.

Stu

00:34:18 That’s amazing.

Will

00:34:19 And so from that point forward, from birth to three years of age, somewhere in the range of two to three years, by that point that child will have a fully formed adult size gut microbiome. So for example, I have a son who is three and a half. He’s a little man, but he’s got an adult sized microbiome just like me. His microbiome is built just like mine. And if during that vulnerable phase you disrupt this process then you run the risk of downstream issues potentially into adulthood.

00:34:55 And so whether it is C-section or bottle feeding instead of breastfeeding or it is antibiotic use, each of these things has been associated with the same outcomes, increased risk of obesity, increased risk of diabetes, increased risk of allergic issues like asthma, increased risk of autoimmune issues like celiac disease. So you are disrupting the gut, you are disrupting the metabolism, you are disrupting the immune system in that process. And just let me say this real quick. I hope you don’t mind that if you’re freaking out right now, because sometimes people do when I share this stuff, if you’re freaking out because you got kids because you love your kids and any parent loves their kids, I don’t want you to freak out. You can have perfectly healthy kids who have had antibiotics or who have been born by C-section. Both of my kids were born by C-section.

00:35:49 But I think the point from my perspective is number one, this is showing us how much nature wants us to have this relationship. Number two, this is such a critical time. And number three, of the things that we can control, we really should control those things. And so let me give you an example. Breast milk, not always easy to control, can be insanely frustrating and tough and when it doesn’t work. But my wife breastfed both of our children for two years each and I’m very proud of her for that. In human breast milk there is this stuff called human milk oligosaccharides, HMOs. There’s literally over 200 types of HMOs. They’re fascinating because they have zero nutrition for the child. They have zero calories. They go in the mouth. They pass out the derriere. But HMOs are prebiotic. So they’re actually intended in mom’s breast milk to feed the microbiome.

Stu

00:36:52 Unbelievable. Nature’s found a way. It’s perfect, isn’t it?

Will

00:36:57 It’s perfect and it just goes to show you how smart it is relative to us because who would have ever thought of that? And it’s just perfect.

Stu

00:37:08 So no doubt there are a lot of people out there now scratching their head and feeling concerned and wanting, knowing that something isn’t quite right but wanting to make change, wanting to start this journey. But you mentioned before that testing right now it’s not easy. Perhaps not that accurate. It’s not readily available and my gut feel, for want of a better word, is that a conventional doctor, our standard medical doctor may not be as familiar with the importance of all of the practices and procedures that he or she needs to know to be able to guide the patient in the right way. So where would we turn? We’ve got this big question mark above our head and think, well, just don’t know what to do. Where do we start?

Will

00:38:01 I don’t know if you’re trying to like throw me a bone here, but I feel like the answer is so obvious. You need to read my book. I’m just being honest because the book, it is the manual. This is the entirety of my professional experience. You will see when you read the book what my background is and the skillsets that I’m bringing to the table. And this is the playbook. It’s not enough for me just to bring attention to the science. I’m going to show you what this is all about. I’m going to show you the mechanisms behind gut health and basically make it very clear. But you also need the next step.

00:38:48 It’s not enough for me to say, “Hey, go heal your gut.” It needs to be like, “This is how you heal the gut.” And so the book has a four week plan. The four week plan was specifically chosen to be four weeks because when you look, study after study, after study shows four weeks seems to be a magic number in the microbiome where you can radically alter it in about four weeks. The plan is more than 70 recipes, delicious, flavors from around the world, all different cultures. Every week you have a shopping list. It tells you exactly what to get, exactly how to cook it. We try to make it as simple as possible.

00:39:34 I even said to the person who was helping me develop these recipes, “I want you to imagine that I’m a 22 year old guy who just finished college and I’m living in an apartment by myself and I want to be able to cook this.” So that’s what we went for with these recipes. The bottom line is that I truly believe that this book is going to answer all those questions and show you the path forward in terms of how to implement this.

Stu

00:40:01 So I’ve got a few questions I want to ask just around some of the finer points. Specifically, around fiber and plants. First up is, is all fiber created equal? And I’m coming at that from a standpoint of we can get our fiber from fruits and vegetables or we could gravitate more into the more natural supplement range, like a resistant starch and psyllium husk, things like that. Then we could go into the chemist or the pharmacy and purchase a fiber supplement along those lines.

Will

00:40:36 Mm-mm (negative).

Stu

00:40:38 On the spectrum, one better than the other? Easier than the other? What would you suggest?

Will

00:40:44 Let’s break this down and start here. Fiber is not just fiber. This is a broad word. The word fiber, you need to conceptualize it like a protein. We all agree there are a myriad varieties of proteins. How many exist? We don’t even know. Tell me how many types of protein exists in nature. We have no clue. Tell me how many types of fiber exist in nature. Again, we have no clue. It’s at least millions. It could be billions. Every plant has not one type of fiber. Every plant has fiber and it will have multiple different types of fiber. For simplicity’s sake, from a chemistry perspective, Stu, because it’s so hard for us to define all of these types of fiber we have created two broad categories to make it super simple, soluble and insoluble fiber. And for people at home just to understand, insoluble fiber is the roughage.

00:41:44 The story on insoluble fiber is always the same. The insoluble fiber goes in your mouth, it goes through the intestine and it launches out the other end like a torpedo. That’s insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber has a different story. It is not what you’ve been told. It doesn’t just shoot out the other end. Soluble fiber, and by the way when I say this the same is true for resistant starch, which technically is not fiber, but it behaves the exact same as soluble fiber so we can treat it the same and include this in the conversation. Soluble fiber and resistant starch pass through the small intestine to arrive in the colon and when they get there, the gut microbiome gets into a feeding frenzy. It goes crazy and it starts to consume the soluble fiber and the resistant starch. When it does that it has an effect on the microbiome. The microbiome changes.

00:42:42 Certain species grow stronger and then the microbiome will take that fiber and actually transform it into something called a short chain fatty acid. Perhaps people have heard butyrate, acetate, propionate. These are healing molecules. These are incredibly healing right there in the gut, but actually they spread throughout the entire body. If you want to we can talk about the study with short chain fatty acids protecting against respiratory viruses. There’re studies that say that. They also cross the blood-brain barrier. They enter into the brain. They protect us on a number of different levels. How much would the pharmaceutical industry spend to be able to reverse Alzheimer’s disease? The way that you do that is breakdown beta amyloid plaques. They haven’t found a drug that does it. Guess what breaks it down? Short chain fatty acids actually break down beta amyloid plaques, protect us from Alzheimer’s, a number of other effects in the brain, improve our focus.

00:43:40 These are incredibly powerful. Honestly, Stu, no exaggeration, I am blown away that no one has written a book about these short chain fatty acids because they should be the hottest thing in all of nutrition. I don’t get why people aren’t talking about them in the same way that they do with other things. I really, truly believe that this is one of the key things that we are missing because when you don’t have enough soluble fiber in your diet, you can’t get them. You can’t get them from someplace else. So if 97% of us are not hitting the mark when it comes to soluble fiber, then we’re never going to get these short chain fatty acids.

00:44:18 Now, with all this said, here’s one of the other key points. Each type of fiber, just like each type of protein, has its own unique biochemistry. We should not lump them all in together. We should not just count grams. This is why I don’t count grams. The reason why diversity of plants is important, is that each unique plant with its unique types of fiber is going to feed unique species of bacteria and microbes that live inside of your microbiome. So when you take a food and you add it into your diet, there are certain species that will thrive as a result. But if you were to take that food and remove it from your diet, those same species will actually start to fall off and die. So the point is we want to support a diverse microbiome and to support a diverse microbiome you need diverse fiber from diverse plant sources. This is the key from my perspective, not all fiber is the same. By the way, Stu, even when it comes to the supplements that you mentioned, they’re not all the same. Go try them.

00:45:26 There’s many different types of fiber. Let me give you an example. It was probably two years ago, I bought a big old bag of glucomannan. So glucomannan is a soluble fiber now. I always put my soluble fiber in my coffee. I do it every day. I put this glucomannan in my coffee. I did not realize how viscous this stuff is. It turned my coffee into gelatin. It was that thick. So different types of fiber have different effects. If we want to talk about supplements specifically, there is no superior type. I actually think you want all of them. I think you want variety in there too.

Stu

00:46:18 Yeah, it’s interesting. And that leads me to my next question around fruits and vegetables. Generally, I think that everybody knows that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables but, and here’s the but, organic fruits and vegetables are very expensive or at least in this country they’re very expensive.

Will

00:46:41 They are in the U.S. too.

Stu

00:46:42 Yeah, and for those with larger families, even moreso expensive if we want to do the right thing for ourselves and our families. Should we be concerned about the purchase of nonorganic produce when we want to increase the amount of fiber that we through fruits and vegetables, given the fact that we may be equally as concerned about pesticides, herbicides and anything else that could be sprayed upon these veggies?

Will

00:47:12 I think that it’s fair to have concerns about herbicides and pesticides. I think that it’s fair. Now, to date we have not had studies that say people are living shorter lives because they eat fruits and vegetables, right?

Stu

00:47:26 Right.

Will

00:47:26 All of the studies consistently say you live longer when you eat the fruits and vegetables. So don’t be scared by the idea of the pesticides and herbicides. But what we want is we want to be smart. We want to be smart consumers. I think that where I would start is to say this, there are certain fruits and vegetables that you can easily get away with getting in a form that is not organic. If the skin is thick and the skin will be removed then the necessity for organic drops down substantially. So what I’m talking about is an orange, banana an avocado. These kinds of things. If the skin is thick and you remove the skin then you don’t need to worry so much about whether or not it’s organic. I don’t buy organic bananas. I just buy the regular ones.

00:48:23 If the skin is thin, that’s a different story, greens, berries, apples. Then there’re certain things that are dirt cheap, no matter what, like beans. Beans are dirt cheap no matter what. The reason why you want to go organic with beans is that most people don’t realize that there are genetically modified products that are sprayed with glyphosate. For example, soy and corn are the two big ones. But most people don’t realize that wheat is actually sprayed with glyphosate in the processing at the end. The reason that they do it is a desiccant, which means that it dries out the wheat because it kills it, it kills the wheat.

00:49:15 So at the end of the day, if you look at the use of glyphosate the only way to ensure the glyphosate is not there is to go organic. But again, if the skin is thick you can remove the skin and then to me, I’m less concerned about what was sprayed over the surface. So that’s the approach that I take. I just wish though that our countries had the integrity to actually make these things more readily available for people. There’s a lot of ways they could do it. They just choose not to, right?

Stu

00:49:51 Right, yeah.

Will

00:49:52 So when you’re subsidizing sugar and when you’re subsidizing genetically modified soy and genetically modified corn then you are subsidizing unhealthy food. And guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to end up with a problem like we have in the United States where you’re making the unhealthy food cheap. Then you’re going to end up paying more on the tail end because of the healthcare expenses. Healthcare is expensive. So I wish that they would take these subsidies and rather than applying it to unhealthy food, turn around and direct those subsidies towards this healthy food to make it so cheap relative to the unhealthy food that the person who lives in a poor community that perhaps lacks the education that someone like you and I have to understand longterm value in your diet. If you make it cheaper, you make the choice easier for them.

Stu

00:50:50 Yeah, it’s obscene really because that should not be radical thinking at all. It should be common sense. But of course it isn’t because

00:51:01 I think there are vested interests at stake and big industries as well. Last question in this thinking about fiber and the integrity of gut health, the underlying message that seems to be coming out of the health space, at least for the last five, six, seven, eight years, has been that grains are damaging for the gut, in particular glutenous grains where the permeability is concerned. And obviously if we’re looking to transition over to more of a plant based scenario, then grains are more than likely going to become a staple of our day. What are your thoughts on grains and of course, the big one is bread for most of us?

Will

00:51:55 Sure, sure, sure. I would encourage people who have fear of grains to read chapters four and five of my book with an open mind because I elaborate on what I’m about to say to you even more. And I even show people exactly what you should be doing with gluten because some people should be gluten-free, don’t get me wrong, but I’m happy to share with you my concerns with the categorical elimination of gluten for all human beings across the planet. I think that we could be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

00:52:35 But let me start here and say, I think that whole grains are foundational foods for the gut microbiome and the studies looking specifically at the microbiome and the effects that you see after you consume whole grains would support that. And when we do studies looking at whole grains, for example, population-based studies, we see … For example there’s one that was a systematic review in Med Analysis where people who ate whole grains lived longer, less risk of heart disease, less risk of death from heart disease, less cancer, less risk of death from cancer. And it just went down the line and it was almost ridiculous how positive this study was about the consumption of whole grains.

00:53:20 We see them consumed in the blue zones around the world and the idea that they’re inflammatory largely comes from test tube studies. Those are not studies that look at what happens to Stu when he eats whole grains. Because at the end of the day I want to know what happens to Stu when you eat real food. And when they look at that study, they actually see people living longer, with better health, less risk of heart disease, less risk of cancer.

00:53:54 But I think that the conversation surrounding whole grains, like so many things in nutrition merits stripping apart the layers and being more precise and fine in the conversation.

00:54:09 Processed foods, refined grains, ultra processed, that is junk. That is junk. That is part of the 60% that I call processed food and I would encourage you to get rid of it.

00:54:20 Now the problem with gluten, and I want to just be clear upfront, I am not telling people that they should make gluten the backbone of their diet. I would never say that. The question is whether or not we should include some gluten. And the problem with the gluten-containing foods, wheat, barley and rye, is that … I am 40 years old and I’ve never consumed raw wheat. I don’t think anyone else has. Like very few. It’s always processed.

00:54:46 Is there a form of wheat that may actually be beneficial for us? And I would argue yes, because wheat contains very healthy fructan prebiotics. There are prebiotics that feed the microbiome that you will find in wheat.

00:55:05 I don’t like wheat that is sprayed with glyphosate. So immediately I’m throwing out the stuff that’s not organic and what I want to keep around is the stuff that’s organic and is on the spectrum of sourdough or Ezekiel bread. That’s the spectrum that I’m talking about, and I’m not talking about having sandwiches every single day. I’m talking about continuing to include it in your diet. And the reason why I think it’s important is because of a study that came out looking at people who go gluten-free and their risk of heart disease. And what they found is that when people went gluten-free, they actually dramatically increased their risk of heart disease.

00:55:49 And that’s because there are other studies too. In fact, there was one that came out of Australia. It was an Australian group that did this, that showed us that whole grains alter the microbiome in a way that reduces our exposure to TMAO. TMAO, your listeners may already be familiar is a post biotic which has been strongly associated with the risk of developing heart disease. The point being, how do whole grains work to protect us from heart disease? Here’s the path. Whole grains have prebiotics that feed the microbiome in a certain way, and by altering the microbiome in that certain way, they reduce the production of TMAO by the microbiome. That’s the way that it works.

00:56:35 I think whole grains should be a part of your diet. The evidence that they’re inflammatory is based upon test tube stuff, not what happens when a real person eats real food.

00:56:45 When a real person eats these foods, as I lay out in my book, you actually see their CRP, a measure of their inflammation. You see it decline by increasing their whole grains.

00:56:57 And do I think that everyone should be gluten-free? No. I think that gluten should probably be included in moderation for most people who don’t have celiac disease. But if you, Stu, came to my office and you said to me, “Hey doc, listen, I’ve decided that I want to be gluten free and I feel really good and I want to stay that way.” What I would say to you is “Stu, you can be perfectly healthy being gluten-free if that’s really what you want to do. I’m okay with it.”

00:57:26 But what I want you to understand is I don’t want you to get rid of grains entirely. I want you to make a concerted effort since you are eliminating the number one source of whole grains, which is wheat, since you’re eliminating the number one source, I want you to make a concerted effort to make sure that you’re including for me, the gluten-free whole grains. I want to make sure that every week you have a meal that includes some quinoa or some sorghum. I want you to have oatmeal for breakfast a couple times a week. And by doing this you’re going to be basically offsetting. It doesn’t have to be wheat. It doesn’t have to be. But I don’t think that you can get rid of whole grains as an entire category and be healthier as a result of that. I just don’t believe that.

Stu

00:58:08 Brilliant. Fantastic. I could talk to you all day. I’ve got so many questions, but I’m not going to ask any more at the moment apart from just a couple that that will just lead us into the end of the show. So many questions. So many questions.

00:58:24 I wanted just to dial in before we wrap up, just on you personally and the non- negotiables that you practice each and every day to ensure that you crush your day. And it doesn’t have to be fiber-based, microbiome-based, but it might be just little practices that you do every day and you mentioned your coffee, just things like that. What do you do then every day?

Will

00:58:49 All right, let me go in a different direction than I have because you guys already know the easy answer for me would be diversity of plants, which is something that I do with every meal. I do that with every meal. But let me go in a little bit of a different direction. Let me talk about bio rhythm, circadian rhythm, and what my personal bio rhythm is. I think when people do time restricted eating, I think that people are really understanding the hour thing. Like, “Hey, I need 12 to potentially 16 hours.” People are getting that, but what people are missing is that the timing of it is really important too. It’s important to have an early dinner. If you’re going to have dessert, so be it, have your dessert and then boom, strict water fasting after dinner, strict water fasting.

00:59:41 That way you go to bed on a completely empty stomach. You wake up the following morning and it’s probably already been 12 hours. It’s probably already been 12 hours. And if you can push it just a little bit longer, then you’re goin to continue to get the benefits of the time restricted eating.

00:59:58 My routine in the morning is to have two large glasses of water first. I’m a coffee lover. I love coffee. But the problem for me is that I will pound coffee to the point that I’ll dehydrate myself. So what I’ve had to do is I have two large glasses of water. It turns on my brain, turns on my gut, turns on my kidneys. And then I reach for the coffee, I got my prebiotic in there. I have a couple cups of coffee, I’ll sprinkle in some more water if my lips start to get dry, I know that I’m going too hard on the coffee and not hard enough on the water. So if the lips get dry, get the water in there.

01:00:36 And then typically I’ll either wait until lunch to have my first meal, or I’ll have some sort of snack in the morning. It could be a piece of fruit, it could be sourdough bread with avocado and some spices. Another thing that I’ve been into recently is to take a piece of bread, toast and put peanut butter and some berries on top. And it’s pretty good too.

Stu

01:01:05 Yeah. Delicious. Fantastic. Like it, like it. What’s next? What’s next in the pipeline? I mean, clearly you’ve more than likely smashed yourself writing this book, which we will share with everybody in a second. But what have you got in the pipeline in terms of the launch and for the rest of the year?

Will

01:01:31 So damn man, I mean, this virus is crazy and I feel, let me just be honest, I feel stupid talking about a book launch when there were people sick, there are people dying. Of course my heart is there above all else, but the virus has significantly disrupted both my medical practice and my book launch. So I’m doing what I think everyone else is doing, which is after you get past the shock of it and you get your legs under you, you pivot and you figure out what you got to do, moving in a different direction. I’m going to be having more of an online launch. I’m hoping to have a summit the week of. I’m hoping to have a summit with guests the week of the book launch, which will be completely for free. And I’m also building out some of my online offerings so for the people who read the book and love it and you get excited and you’re like, “Gosh, this is awesome. I want more.”

01:02:34 The person who says that, the person who wants to heal their gut, I’m developing a course.

Stu

01:02:39 Great.

Will

01:02:40 It’s going to be completely online. And I actually have been beta testing it. I’m in my second round of beta testing it. I have my second group that we’re working with and I have to tell you, I’m actually super excited about it because the results that we’ve been getting, I mean, I have people in this course who have been suffering with digestive issues for 10 plus years, who are emerging from the course and telling me that we found the solution. And so I’ve been blown away by it and I’m hoping to have that fully launched this summer, ideally June. It kind of depends.

Stu

01:03:10 Yeah. Fantastic. Fantastic. Well definitely looking forward to finding out a whole wheat more because it is the most important … Well it’s the most important pain point for at least our listeners. When we polled them, it was gut health, weight loss, and then energy. And strangely enough everything kind of does fall into the gut health category anyway.

Will

01:03:34 Exactly. I was just going to say you collapsed that in one.

Stu

01:03:36 That’s right. For all of our listeners that have dialed into this, where can we get more of you? Where can we send them to find out more about the book, purchase the book, dial into your message? Where do go?

Will

01:03:50 Let me say home base, probably the easiest thing is come to theplantfedgut. com and you will find my email list, which has free offerings. You’ll find information about my book. Stu, I will give you a link that you could post with the show notes so that people in Australia who want to order the book can actually get the hard cover.

Stu

01:04:13 Great.

Will

01:04:14 And of course you could order the Kindle version if you prefer to get the Kindle version. Anyone can order that at any time. And then come hang out with me on Instagram. I’m on Instagram, I’m under The Gut Health MD and I love having the conversations. I love meeting new groups of people. I’m excited to meet the 180 Nutrition people and I want to say to them right now, the people who are listening to this from the 180 Nutrition crowd, if you enjoy this podcast, tell your friends, put this on social media. I’ll share it, I’ll share it. If you post it on social media and you tag me, I will share what you post.

01:04:54 And I truly believe we live in this era of … It’s information overload, but really it’s misinformation overload. And so what we need to do is we need to elevate high quality information when we find it. So if you guys believe in what I’m putting out there and you think this is high quality. I sure as heck believe in it. Then help me spread the message. You can do it by spreading the message on Instagram, on social media, and if you love the book, take a photo of the book, share it with your friends, tag me. I will share that too. I just feel like we all have the power to make a difference just by spreading high quality information around the world.

Stu

01:05:31 Yeah. Fantastic. Fantastic. Well we will put all of the links that we’ve spoken about today in the show notes to ensure that everybody knows exactly where to go in order to dig deeper into the message that we’ve spoken about today.

01:05:44 Thank you so much for your time. So appreciative. And I think there’s never been a better time to be able to grasp this information and really start to make change in ourselves as well. It’s very, very important stuff. Once again, thank you. Really, really enjoyed the chat.

Will

01:05:59 Thank you so much. Me too, my friend, me too.

Stu

01:06:02 All right, take care. Bye bye.

Will

01:06:04 You too.

Will Bulsiewicz

This podcast features Dr. Bulsiewicz is a board certified gastroenterologist and gut health expert. With 14 years as an MD using the latest in cutting edge medical research. He helps patients face their health goals and challenges head on and achieve incredible results. In this episode, we discussed the fundamentals... Read More
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