In this Episode
- [01:45]Susan explains what preventive medicine is and how it relates to conventional medicine. She also explains that the root cause of disease is based in lifestyle, and clarifies what lifestyle medicine is. Finally, she discusses functional medicine.
- [04:40]Stephan steps in to explain preventive medicine and functional medicine in basic terms. Susan then clarifies Stephan’s explanation.
- [08:01]What are some of the things that Susan has learned that may help a general listener avoid diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and similar issues? She recommends “knowing your number” by asking your doctor for simple lab tests.
- [10:23]Susan takes a deep dive into the role of food and diet in health. She offers basic recommendations such as getting rid of sugar and white flour, and eating whole foods.
- [13:31]A moment ago, as she talked about knowing your numbers, Susan mentioned the size of lipoprotein particles. She and Stephan return to that topic. Susan does an NMR panel on every new patient who comes to her. She then offers an analogy to explain why the size of your lipoprotein particles matters.
- [19:46]Susan shares her thoughts on statins. They’re really important for certain people, she says, and explains the factor that differentiates people who do and don’t need a statin.
- [23:15]We return to the topic of inflammation, which is the source that drives diseases. Susan gives some recommendations for what listeners should know about what inflammation is and how to reduce it.
- [27:36]Does Susan recommend a particular stool test? She uses one from Genova Diagnostics. She then clarifies that we’re still in our infancy for these tests, and that the tests have limitations.
- [31:14]Susan offers her recommendations for herbal gut cleanses to reboot your flora. She then talks about how to do an elimination diet to figure out your triggers.
- [36:49]Stephan asks whether you can test your blood for food allergies and sensitivities instead of going through the process of an elimination diet. Susan explains why the test is limited in the information it can provide. She then recommends that certain people include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers on the list of excluded foods in their elimination diet test.
- [40:36]Stephan has seen firsthand the importance of doing this test on nightshades. Susan then points out that the problem isn’t that tomatoes are fattening, but rather that they’re triggering inflammation.
- [42:46]How long does it take to go through the entire elimination and reduction diet process? It takes three weeks to do all the elimination, and then takes another three weeks or so for reintroduction. After explaining this, Susan points out that you don’t actually need to eliminate a food you’re sensitive to forever. She talks about what to do once you’ve found a food you’re sensitive to.
- [46:54]Susan is entertained by the rumor that eating popcorn is bad for you, because it pokes holes in your gut and creates leaky gut. She explains that this isn’t true, but then goes on to discuss why there are problems with corn. She then discusses GMOs.
- [50:45]We learn what fecal transplants are, and Susan shares her thoughts on them.
- [53:12]What does Susan think of colonics? She explains that the jury is still out on them, and says that it’s possible to become dependent on them.
- [55:02]Susan doesn’t think parasite cleanses are bad, but suggests doing them maybe once a year, not too often.
- [56:05]We hear more about stool testing for parasites. Susan mentions a New York doctor named Kevin Cahill who tests for parasites.
- [58:11]We shift to the topic of heavy metals. Susan explains some common types of metals in the body, and talks about ways of testing for them. She mentions her book, The Immune System Recovery Plan.
- [63:57]Should we be concerned about Fukushima exposure in terms of radioactivity in our fish and seafood?
- [65:32]Susan doesn’t eat tilapia, for example. She then shares that she is involved in a food business called Organic Pharmer, which has been vegan but may branch out into fish.
- [68:12]To learn more about a liver tune-up, people can go to Susan’s site at blumhealthmd.com. Other than that, she suggests Googling “functional medicine detox.” She then provides some advice on how to care for your liver.
- [72:18]Susan lists some things you can find when you go to her website. She explains that she also does a Facebook Live session every Tuesday at 1 PM Eastern.
Your immune system is your line of defence against the pathogens and toxins that bombard you constantly, yet you’re compromising your immune system through a myriad of bad lifestyle choices that you’re probably not even aware of. Thankfully, Dr. Susan Blum, author of The Immune System Recovery Program is joining us today to get you on the straight and narrow and hopefully prolong your life. Of course, I have to throw in the disclaimer this is not medical advice and consult your doctor. Hey, I’m Stephan Spencer, your host. Let me introduce to you Dr. Susan Blum, Assistant Clinical Professor in Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai. She is medical advisor to The Dr. Oz Show and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Susan, it’s great to have you on the show.
Hey! Great! Thank you for having me. I’m very happy to be here.
Let’s, first of all, define for folks Preventive Medicine versus Traditional Medicine. It sounds good, Preventive Medicine, it makes sense but what is it exactly? Do you hire a practitioner to help you with preventive medicine or is that just a catch-off for everything that’s holistic?
Well, let me help you with that. It’s actually interesting because Preventive Medicine, which I’m a physician and I’m board-certified in Preventive Medicine. That’s actually a medical specialty that you can be trained in the conventional world. I was trained in Preventive Medicine but what does it really mean in the conventional world? It means prevention only approaches early detection. Conventional Medicine looks at immunization programs, mammograms, colonoscopies, and preventing illness by picking them up early, early detection. When I was going through my training in Preventive Medicine I thought, “Well, this is okay but wait a second, don’t we want to do primary prevention? Get to the root problem. What’s the root of illness? How do we really prevent it from beginning in the first place?” What we learned over the past 20 years is that the root cause of disease is really focused in lifestyle. This new emerging field of what’s called Lifestyle Medicine. Within the field of Preventive Medicine there’s actually a field now called Lifestyle Medicine and we look at things like nutrition, stress, sleep, and exercise. All the things that we are supposed to everyday that help prevent illness, that prevent our body from getting sick because we have a lot of good data now about how healthy behaviors really have an effect on developing chronic disease later. That’s Preventive Medicine.
Now, Preventive and Lifestyle Medicine, I think of that as the bridge where conventional crosses over into Integrative Medicine because what I did was I looked at what I was doing in the conventional world and I thought this is not really giving me clinical tools on how to work with people. I discovered the field of Functional Medicine. I discovered this about 15 years ago. We are doctors. We see patients. I have a general medical practice in Functional Medicine. What Functional Medicine does is it’s a different way of looking at the person sitting in front of me. Instead of just looking for diagnosing a disease, I am trying to understand where are you not functioning right to explain your symptoms. Are your symptoms caused by the food you’re eating? Are the symptoms caused by your adrenals or your thyroid or hormone imbalance that are causing fatigue or other kinds of symptoms? Are your symptoms caused by toxin related illness, environmental toxins? Is your gut a problem? Or is your microbiome out of balance? In the world of Functional Medicine, we have other kinds of tools and other kinds of ways of approaching the human body in terms of understanding the root cause of where inflammation comes from and inflammation is what drives disease. I really won the lottery with Functional Medicine because I know how to find the source of inflammation and how to reverse that and treat that. For me, I believe that that’s true Preventive Medicine in action.
Yeah, that makes sense. All these different terms are thrown around of Preventive Medicine, Lifestyle Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Functional Medicine but it’s great. To demystify it for our listeners, I think it is really helpful. I’m clear on Preventive Medicine. It’s more like mammograms, ultrasounds, and that sort of thing that help detect early a problem. Functional Medicine, on the other hand, is more like at the very root cause stage where you’re trying to figure out that if you don’t stop smoking or if you don’t stop sitting in front of your computer without exercising 12 hours a day stints then you’re going to end up with some sort of diagnosable illness.
Let me just clarify that a little bit again. You got that right, mostly. I’m a chronic disease specialist. I treat people that are very sick; autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic. You name it, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. I see people like that. It’s not just about preventing illness. What we know about what prevents illness is what we’ve learned you need to use to treat illness. You need to treat people with complex chronic diseases with these lifestyle approaches. What we learned from the world of preventive medicine, on the importance of lifestyle, you have to take that and use it as part of your treatment plan when you’re working with people that are sick and to use it as part of prevention.
When someone comes in to see me I’m not like, for example, I recently had a new patient this week. They were here because they have GERD reflux but part of my whole intake with them is their cardiovascular risk assessment like preventive cardiology. What’s your family history? What are your inflammation markers? Let’s see what your cholesterol looks like. Do you have sugar issues? Where are you in the risks spectrum for cardiovascular disease? How much exercise are you getting? There’s a prevention piece but the problem with the GERD actually comes down to more of digestive issues. Then, I will walk you to working with food and specific what are you eating that’s giving you the reflux. From Functional Medicine, I have special stool tests that I can do to look at their gut bacteria, to figure out what’s out of balance. I have herbs that I use. That’s the integrative piece to the Functional Medicine to have to treat the gut microbiome using tools that are outside of the conventional arena. Did I make that more complicated?
No, this is good. Let’s move into some of these different…
Right, enough about the nomenclature. Let’s talk about the good stuff, right?
Well, I was going to actually get into really bad stuff like inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, that sort of stuff. The stuff that can really lower your quality life, shorten your life, and statistically, probably one of the things that’s going to take us out at the end. What are some of the things that you’ve learned from working with all these different patients that will help just our general listener who may not be exhibiting any signs of diabetes yet or of cardiovascular disease but they need to know this in order to avoid it?
When it comes to things like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, I make this joke about this, “Know Your Number.” I did a Facebook Live discussion. Every Tuesday at [1:00]PM, I do a Facebook Live and yesterday my topic was Cardiovascular Disease: Know Your Number. These are things you can ask your regular doctor. You can get some simple lab tests to try to understand if you’re a high-risk person or if you’re a low-risk person. You can have no symptoms whatsoever. But if you have somebody in your family, for example, who had diabetes, who died young or had a heart attack in their 50s or 60s, you want to go into your doctor and ask them, “What’s my risk for heart disease because I feel fine now but I have family history. What are my inflammation markers?” It’s called a Cardio CRP. That’s the place to start. “What’s my blood sugar marker like, my hemoglobin A1C. Not just cholesterol but what do my lipid particles look like? Are they big? Are they little?” There’s actually something called a lipoprotein(a) which is a different risk that’s very genetic.
Everyone should know their numbers.
When you have a high marker on that one, then you’re a high-risk person. It’s sort of like know your numbers. These are numbers that your doctor should do for you especially if you ask them to. It should be covered by insurance. Everyone should know their numbers. This tells you if you’re at risk, but even if you’re not at risk, food is the number one place to always start. Food is medicine and if there is anything else that I know from all those fields of way I practice from Preventive Medicine to Lifestyle Medicine to Functional Medicine, Integrative, all of that. All of that are saying the same thing about food. Food has the power to trigger inflammation or to lower inflammation. At the end of the day, I believe in bringing sanity back to food. Everyone is getting very caught up in fad diets. Should I eat Paleo? Should I eat Ketogenic Diet? Should I eat Low Glycemic? Should I be a Vegan? People are so confused and half of the time I spend explaining food and bringing some sanity back.
The first thing about food is that it needs to be personalized to the individual. What that means is that it depends on what your health issue is. For example, if you have diabetes and cardiovascular disease, you really want to focus on getting the sugar out. These are some very simple things. When you look across the border, all of those fad diets or all of those different kinds of diets that you might read about, it’s what they all have in common that makes them all successful. What do all good food programs have in common? They get the sugar out. What does that mean? That means get rid of the soda, the cookies, and the cake like the obvious sugar, the processed sugar. Reduce the white flour processed foods in your diet. Try to eat whole foods. When you look at your plate, avoid processed foods, fried foods. Really getting into a more whole foods diet in and to me, that means that 70% of the food that you eat everyday should look like how you picked it off of the ground. A fruit, vegetable, legumes, beans – not seeds, all that, 70% of your food should look like that.
No matter what balance you choose based upon what diet you’re following, everybody believes about getting the sugar out because sugar drives inflammation, and inflammation is the underlying cause of illness. The other big thing we all agree about is the quality of the fat. What’s your diet made of? What kind of fat? There’s inflammatory fat which is dairy fat and animal products as well as processed oils. All of the canola, vegetable, wesen, those kinds of oils, vegetable oils that are really overly processed actually are inflammatory in the body as opposed to really focusing on anti-inflammatory fats. Using olive oil, which is a tried and true low inflammation fat, making sure you are eating fish, we can talk about mercury maybe, but the fish and omega 3’s, making sure you’re getting good omega 3’s, nuts and seeds in your diet, avocados, coconut oil, these good fats. This is good. Reducing processed fat and eating healthier fat. It doesn’t mean never to eat animal or never to eat dairy, as long you don’t have an issue with dairy, which a lot of people do.
70% of your food should not be bad fat. It should be good fat.
But again, 70% of your food should not be bad fat. It should be good fat. It is what you are filling yourself up with. These are the basic things about the quality of the food, being careful about eating food that’s too high on pesticides because pesticides and toxins trigger inflammation. It’s hard to eat organic. It’s expensive for most people so I always send people to a website called, the Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org. They have something called The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen. That will direct you towards foods that you should really try to eat organic when you can. Looking at your diet and looking first at the quality of everything, I think we can all agree, is the first step that really works to lower a lot of inflammation for a lot people.
That’s all great stuff. We’ll come back to that but I want to go first to an important distinction about knowing your numbers. You talked about the size of the particles makes the difference that was the lipoprotein particles you were referring to? That’s not normally something that they check though when you just go into your general practitioner and get a check-up. They run your cholesterol numbers and everything. Some of the stuff isn’t even real numbers. It’s like ratios or calculated numbers and they are certainly not looking at the size of the particle. That’s for an NMR type of…
That’s right! You’ve had that done, so you know.
Yeah. Well, I also have a Masters in Biochemistry.
Oh, that’s so cool. Okay, great! Exactly like LabCorp here, in my routine lab. LabCorp does an NMR profile. I do that on every new patient that comes in because I’m very interested in the preventive card, you see. When you asked at the very beginning, “How do you find a doctor? This isn’t everybody’s practice.” Asking for an NMR, which just is a particle assessment of your cholesterol, which is just looking under the iceberg, at the top of the surface is just a regular lipid panel, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides. Four things, that’s all you’re going to get. However, if you have any reason to be concerned, if you have any kind of blood sugar issues, if you’re overweight, have obesity of any kind, if you had any kind of family history, and the genetics are there, you can ask your doctor to run an NMR or a Cardio IQ, they call it the Quest.
It’s a particle assessment and sometimes I have patients who come in and their doctor would have done that. It’s a primary care doctor. You don’t have to go to a cardiologist for that. What it does is it look at the size of your particles because exactly and the way I like to explain it is that if you take that, for example, the LDL, which is the bad cholesterol. Let’s say your LDL number is 130. That’s a nice not too high, not too low number. An LDL of 130, all that means is that imagine you have two measuring cups sitting in front of you and you have a line on the cup and you put in big fat cherries up to line 130. That’s one measuring cup. In the other measuring cup, you pour in tiny little blueberries and you fill that up in the same line 130. You have the same amounts of LDL, theoretically, 130. The measuring cup goes the same line on both sides but if you look inside the cup, on one side you have big fat cherries and on the other side you have little blueberries, little ones. It turns out that LDL, when you do the conventional task you are only being told what the line is, how big is the cup, what size is your cup, and you get this 130.
LDL particles are the bad cholesterol.
But it doesn’t tell you whether you have big fat ones or you have little ones. You just know that you have up to a certain line and it’s a concentration. It’s the wrong number. What you want to know because LDL particles are the bad cholesterol. You want big fluffy ones. You want big fat cherries. You want a small amount of big ones instead of having a lot of little ones and that makes a huge difference because the little ones burrow and dig into your blood vessels and make plaque. The kind of particles you have really matters. The same thing with the HDL, the good cholesterol, I’ve had people who looked like they have great HDL’s when you do their regular panel but when you look at their particles their HDL’s are actually not as big and fluffy as we want. The big fluffy HDL’s, what they do is they remove cholesterol from the plaque but if you don’t you have all the right kind of HDL’s in that measuring cup when you look inside the cup, you’re not going to get effective removal of the plaque. You want to know your particles and that’s the “Know Your Number.”
Now, the other things that’s sort of interesting if I come back just to that LDL of 130, the way that I try to explain this also is that to answer the question, “Do I need a statin?” Everybody after menopause, all women, their cholesterol goes up. You’d have everybody in the world on statin if you’ve used just LDL just a regular cut off of 130, let’s stay for statin, or even 100. It turns out that the cutoff for deciding if you need a statin depends on your risk for cardiovascular disease. It doesn’t depend on what your LDL number is. You, Stephan, might have a different number that will determine when you need a statin than I do. That’s why you need to know your cardiovascular risk, which is what these particle testing is going to tell you and your genetics, as well as your inflammation in your body, as well as your sugar. There are four things that go into determining cardiovascular risk but a high-risk person might need to get their cholesterol below 100, their LDL.
Whereas a low-risk person might not need to do that. For example, I had a new patient then we went over her first time. I did the NMR test for her. Her total cholesterol was 283 but all of her numbers, every single risk thing, and her LDL was 138. All the risk things that I have just listed for you, all of those other were in the lowest risk category, she has no risk. I said to her, “Your cholesterol’s fine. You do not need a statin.” She walked, thinking, “My cholesterol’s 280. Oh my God, they’re going to want to put me on the statin.” Of course, her good cholesterol was very high in the conventional test too but you have to look, the number that triggers the statin for her is different than the number that would trigger it for me. That’s what I’m trying to get to as I’m explaining this to you. Does that make sense?
It does. Are you not a fan of statin drugs normally? Because I have heard a lot of poo-pooing of statins as of late that we’re chasing the wrong thing. We should be trying to reduce the sugar intake and not trying to lower the cholesterol numbers with statin drugs.
Yes, and no. What does it mean to be integrative, it means that I believe in conventional medicine but I also believe in alternatives or looking for other options and avoiding medications when we can. Taking what I just explained to you, for a high-risk person, statins are shown to be really important for reducing your risk of having a heart attack and having cardiovascular disease. When I do a risk assessment, yes, I actually do end up having some of my patients end up on a statin because when we did the whole risk assessment, they were really very high risk. There’s a big group of studies that came called The Jupiter Studies that were recently, in the past couple of years all their results have come out. They have been very clear that, especially for a group of people that have this risk called the lipoprotein(a), which is a specific kind of particle, if you have a high Lipoprotein A, you need to get your LDL below 100. There’s a subgroup of people that we need to drive their LDL lower, but if you don’t have that then you don’t need a statin. What I’m looking for, what I advocate is sanity in choosing who needs a statin.
I’m an integrative doctor doesn’t mean that I’m not evidence-based in following the science and the medicine.
Most of my patients do not end up needing it when I look at everything and instead we use lifestyle. Yes, changing your diet. Fiber, eating a lot of fiber pulls the cholesterol out of your body through your gut. Adding fiber to the diet, reducing the sugar in the diet, eating healthy fats is a way to lower cholesterol through just diet. I also do supplementations. I use a lot of high dose fish oil and I use fiber supplements as well. I usually just start there and then food and get people exercising and sleeping good and managing stress because actually stress can increase your cholesterol and we can talk about how that happens. There’s a lot of work that we do with lifestyle. Then we retest and we follow that and we see how far we can get with just lifestyle. There are some people that have terrible genetics and a lot of risks. For those people, I do come out on the side of adding a statin. That’s based on science. At the end of the day, just because I’m an integrative doctor doesn’t mean that I’m not evidence-based in following the science and the medicine. I think that we have to be sound of mind and aware of the research and make a decision that’s personalized to each person and not just make broad public health. I think that’s what allowed the push back against statins has been. That it has been a broad wand that every single person needs a statin and we’re just all going to lower cholesterol randomly to get to a certain number. What I’m saying is that needs to be personalized and we need to stratify people and decide who really needs a statin and who really doesn’t. That’s really what I’m talking about here.
Okay, that makes sense. If we go back to this general topic of inflammation and it being the source that drives diseases, as you’ve described it. What do we need to do beyond what we’ve already talked about? Eating a lot of fiber and knowing your numbers and checking them periodically and eating a lot of whole foods and minimizing processed foods and fried foods and sugar and that. What else do our listeners need to know about inflammation and reducing it?
This is where I love functional medicine, this is a great way to understand it. In order to really lower inflammation in your body, sometimes it’s easy to know you have inflammation because maybe you have some joint pain or some swelling. Maybe you have some muscle pain. Maybe you are not even aware you have inflammation. That’s sort of the quiet kind. That’s the markers that you can do in your blood test like a CRP but some people are very aware that they have some inflammation in the body. What does it mean, inflammation? The latent terms were always redness, swelling, pain, and heat. That’s the obvious that you can see but that same redness, swelling, pain, and heat causes irritation on the inside of the body. How does that happen? Think of it like there’s a release in the immune system, think of it sort of as an immune reaction almost, where the immune system and also other cells in your body, your body is having this reaction that’s releasing these irritating chemicals that are zipping around throughout your body, throughout your bloodstream and irritating your tissues from the inside out. That’s how you can get the blood vessels to get irritated so you make plaque.
Even things like brain fog and difficulty concentrating and not being able to sleep because you’re laying in bed because your brain is just zipping and awake. Inflammation can drive that process as well. Where does this come from? The two big sources of inflammation that are not conventionally discussed is the microbes in the gut, your whole microbiome which lines your intestines, and environmental toxins that can come into the body through the foods we’re eating, the air we’re breathing, the water we’re drinking. Both of those places are sources for triggers for inflammation toxins being one and the gut the other. Talking about the gut for a second, the microbiome is one of the most leading edges of research, science and medicine that we really have right now. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen enormous amounts of research and publications about understanding the gut and the 100 trillion microbes that live there, the connection between the gut flora, which are these microbes, and your immune system because 70% of your immune system actually lines your intestines. Right on the inside of your intestines is your immune system lying and waiting for everything you breath. You take into your mouth everyday is the outside world coming in and your immune system sort of lies and wait, waiting to help you with that. As well as your immune system has to handle all those foreign microbes that live in your gut.
70% of your immune system actually lines your intestines.
If there’s any problem in the gut like something called SIBO, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or Dysbiosis, yeast or bacteria overgrowing in the gut, not enough of the good bacteria. An imbalance on those microbes, you can get a problem with your immune system and release of inflammation to your body. Actually, this is one of the causes of autoimmunity. This is a condition called leaky gut, which you might have heard of or your listeners might have heard of. It’s when the intestinal lining gets damaged from this impaired microbial balance. Sometimes toxins can impair the gut, medications can impair the gut, but you get this impaired gut lining and you can end up with this leaky gut, which then causes inflammation throughout distant places in the body. In Functional Medicine, we like to say if you’re sitting on a tack, actually multiple tacks, the answer is not just to take Aspirin, Tylenol, or Advil for the pain. The answer is to find those tacks and remove them and then the inflammation and pain goes away. From the inflammation perspective, the first thing I always do if somebody comes in and their inflammation markers are high in their blood or they are presenting and telling me they have pain inflammation joint pain, arthritis, myalgia, I always check their gut. I always do stool testing here. You don’t have to do the stool test at home, for your listeners, but I’m always working on improving the gut microbes and to repair the guts, repair the leaky gut. This has been a very big focus on what I’ve been working on with my patients for 15 years as a root source and a cause of the inflammation that’s a driver for their health.
Is there a particular stool test that you recommend like uBiome or anything like that?
Well, yeah. They do have direct consumer tests that you can do. I think Enterol Labs has one that’s direct to consumer. The one I use is from a company called Genova Diagnostics. You actually can go on their website and find a practitioner that they work with so you can get a kit through one of their practitioners. That’s one way to find somebody to work with, to help you interpret the test. Because it’s one thing to get a test and it’s another thing to understand how to interpret it. Like, the uBiome, we dabbled with that here. We found it just hard to work with and interpret the results. It’s nice to find a company that you can understand the results. Doctor’s Data has a good one. Diagnos-Techs has a good test. There are different functional labs that do have functional stool testing. I have to prep a step by saying that, which I believe we are still in our infancy for these tests, I definitely have done thousands and thousands of these tests so I know what to look for but I also know when to take it with a grain of salt and look at the person and understand the limitations of this test. There might be 25 DNA microbes that will tell me that are in the amounts in the stool test, there are 500 to 1000 different species of bacteria in the gut.
Even our stool tests are not really giving us a good, accurate picture of the whole microbiome but it will tell me if there’s inflammation. It will tell me if you’re having indigestion, malabsorption issues. It will tell me if there’s an overgrowth of yeast. It will pick up overgrowth of the bacteria that I am looking at and give me an indication of how bad the gut is. Looking for parasites is really important. I definitely do all that kind of testing. I think that if you have digestive symptoms of any kind like for example we did use the word GERD or reflux or even gas and bloating right after you eat or IBS or chronic constipation, it is entirely possible that your microbes are out of balance. I often do recommend just doing an herbal cleanse. An herbal gut cleanse reset to help sort of reboot the flora. It’s like pruning the garden if you think about the inner garden. It’s really easy and people ask me all the time, “How does this happen? How did your gut get so wonky?” I think that there are a lot of things that we do, there’s a whole checklist of common things that we’re doing the way we live that have done this and the number one thing is antacids and PPRS.
It’s one of those commonly taken medication, Tums, over-the-counter Pepcid. We need good stomach acid. The stomach acid actually helps prune the garden in the intestines and it keeps it from over-growing. Why do people take a lot of Tums? A lot of times, it’s because of bad eating, too much alcohol, sugar, fried foods and too much animal food. It’s hard to digest all that. Sometimes, instead of just taking the Tums when you overeat or eat badly, it’s better to just change your diet and not eat the Tums in the first place. We also have overuse of antibiotics. This is where stress comes in. Stress definitely alters the gut microbes and increases leaky gut. Our society is filled with a lot of bad habits that have been wrecking the gut for a lot of people.
Our society is filled with a lot of bad habits that have been wrecking the gut for a lot of people.
If you were to recommend a particular herbal gut cleanse, which one would it be to reboot your flora?
I have a lot of this information on my website which is fine but if you get confused and you want a little help, certainly you can find some help from my website. I have free downloads of 10 steps to eating healthier and fixing your gut and things like that because it’s so important. I use companies like Designs for Health. I use a product called GI Microb-X and I really like that product. I like a company called Apex Energetics and they have something called GI Synergy packets and their herbs are like berberine, uva ursi, oregano, black walnut, wormwood, garlic, and ginger. I tend to go with broad-spectrum products rather than just a single, berberine only, for example. I think there’s a lot of synergy in using a product that has a lot of combinations in it. I use CandiBactin-BR from Metagenics sometimes. I use Tricycline from Allergy Research Group sometimes. I use oregano by itself a lot for Candida overgrowth sometimes, that could work. I use a product called Biocidin, which is an aromatic herbal blend which I really like too.
There are all sorts of ones. I tend to rotate, try combinations of things. Sometimes some things are working but it’s just all combined geomicrobacs and oregano a lot. I do a lot of combinations but the thing is you really need to treat for a month. This isn’t just a week. You do a month of herbs and do a nice pruning of the inner garden. It helps with a lot of symptoms for a lot of people but here’s the thing, I’m a food person. You can’t just do that and not change your food. Here, I want to mention if we’re on the gut and reflux, for example. I want to mention the idea of something called an elimination diet. This is where you do an experiment to figure out what foods might be your triggers. A lot of people come into my office and they’re like, “You know, I get heartburn, I get reflux, I get bloated. I don’t know what does it anymore. I can’t figure it out. I’m busy banging my head trying to figure it out.” There’s actually a very valid experimental method for figuring it out and it’s called an Elimination Reintroduction Diet. Here’s how you do that. It’s very simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. For three weeks, you remove the most common triggers for reflux – gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and eggs. I also say processed food and sugar.
Clean up your diet. Get off the sugar and processed sugar. Gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, processed sugar, you remove those things for three weeks from your diet and there’s plenty to eat. There are plenty of gluten-free grains. You can have rice, you can have quinoa. There are plenty of non-dairy products. There’s coconut kefir, coconut yogurts, coconut milk, almond milk. There are plenty of options. People are like, “What should I eat?” There are plenty of options. You can eat all vegetables, you just can’t have corn. What it does is by taking soy and corn out, not only do you remove a lot of the genetically modified food from your diet but you have to start reading all the labels because all those boxes of things or canned products or processed food that you’re eating, if you read those labels, they all have high fructose corn syrup. There’s the corn syrup. They have soy protein this and cornstarch this. People don’t realize how much corn and soy that you’re ingesting everyday through processed foods. You really clean your food up for three weeks that way and you’ll notice that you’ll feel better. Sometimes, people aren’t really sure. “I don’t know if I feel better. I’m not sure, maybe I feel better.”
Usually, people know but after three weeks, the part 2 of the experiment is really, really important. You then reintroduce each food group one at a time every 3-4 days like really slowly. For example, today I’m going to eat eggs and see if the eggs trigger my symptoms. You have eggs that day maybe once or twice that day. You have eggs everyday for the next couple of days and you see what happens. You see if your symptoms come back. Sometimes people aren’t sure if they feel better but they know if they just put on their symptoms and that’s how you’re going to know. I usually encourage people to experiment with dairy in two ways to go back to do hard cheese or cheese maybe as one introduction and to do milk separately or yogurt separately to really spread out the dairy because sometimes people can tolerate goat cheese or hard cheese but they really can’t do milk or whatever they’ve been putting in their coffee or even soft cheese or even yogurt. I think that it’s really important to do that experiment. This is how you decide if you have food sensitivity. If you find that any of these foods are triggering your symptoms, you have food sensitivity and they might trigger symptoms not just in your gut. They can trigger joint pain, brain fog, or fatigue. That’s called food sensitivity. You eat the food, you feel worse. If you discover that’s the case, then that food is likely triggering inflammation in your body. When I talk about just the anti-inflammatory drive in general, you follow all those things we talked about earlier in the podcast but you also test yourself for food sensitivities and remove the things that are no good for you.
Can’t you just test your blood for food allergies and sensitivities?
I’ve had an immuno labs test done and showed all these sensitivities I had to things like eggs, almonds, and stuff that I was surprised by.
Your immune system has hundreds of ways that it can respond to something.
Yes, let me help you with that. I do food allergy testing or sensitivity testing sometimes here as well. But there’s a limitation to what the test tells you. If you think about the many different ways that your immune system might respond to a food or to anything, your immune system has hundreds of ways that it can respond to something. When you do a food sensitivity test, you’re only asking, “Are you responding this way to the food?” It is one of the most common ways that you might be responding to the food. If you do the test and you’re positive then that’s really helpful because you just found out you are responding that way to those foods and you should eliminate them. However, you might actually be responding in a bad way in a different way to the food that that test isn’t picking up. I think there just can be a lot of false negatives in a test like that. You might find that that test showed you’re fine with corn, for example, but it turns out that your body doesn’t like corn. When you do an Elimination Reintroduction Test Program you discover, “Oh my god! I get totally bloated after I eat corn. Who would’ve known that? The test didn’t show me that.” The test is good. I look at those because they’re IgG test, they’re immunoglobulins results testing. I really like that test.
When I look at the results of that test and if you have a lot of positives, that tells you you have a leaky gut because the pathway to getting those immuno labs test results, positive tests, is through the gut. That’s because you’re leaky and those foods are getting through and you’re immune system is seeing those foods and those are the foods you’re eating and never getting through. That’s really helpful to know. It does give you good information but I still believe nothing replaces a good old Elimination Reintroduction Experiment. It’s additional information. Maybe we should propose it to your listeners as an “and” and not an “or.” I would encourage you if you’ve never done Elimination Diet, to do it because you might discover something you didn’t realize from the blood test. Not everybody has access to the blood test anyway so this is a way to do this without needing the blood test. I do want to add one last thing about an elimination diet.
If you have Arthritis, Inflammatory Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic, and even Osteoarthritis or any kind of Arthritis and you do an elimination diet, you should remove a category of vegetables called the nightshades and this is tomato, potato, eggplant, and peppers. There’s an irritating phytonutrient in those vegetables that seem to flare the joints and the worst offender are tomatoes. People have an existential crisis in my office when I tell them I want you to not eat tomatoes especially if it’s the summertime. These are all the Mediterranean foods – eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, antipasto. People are very horrified by that but I will tell you that it’s really important to do that experiment and to see whether or not after three weeks… I would definitely encourage you to reintroduce those foods one at a time like tomatoes separately. Don’t eat tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant all the same day with the first day back when you’re introducing because you really want to know if each one is an issue because sometimes people have an issue with just one of those and not all of those.
I couldn’t have vouched for the importance of doing this test on nightshade foods because my stepmom, she tried this and she found that she had a reaction to nightshades. In fact, when she eliminated nightshade foods from her diet, she was able to lose 25 pounds, something like that.
Your fat cells in your body are not inert. They’re not just hanging out doing nothing. They’re an endocrine organ.
Wow! You see? Why is that? It’s not because tomatoes are “fattening.” It’s because those foods are triggering inflammation. I love that you brought it up because how does inflammation affect fat? Your fat cells in your body are not inert. They’re not just hanging out doing nothing. They’re an endocrine organ. They actually make hormones. They actually participate in your whole metabolism and your endocrine system. When you have inflammation, like I was talking about these inflammatory, they’re called Cytokines and Leukotrienes are all these fancy names for them. They zip around the body when there’s inflammation. They go into the fat cells and they cause inflammation in the fat cells and when the fat cells are inflamed, they hold onto more fat. They bring the fat in. It’s very hard to lose and they get bigger. Your fat cells get bigger. It’s really hard to lose weight if you have inflammation in your body because it drives the inflammatory fat especially increasing the amounts of fat in the abdominal cavity. You know that Visceral Adipose Tissue, that big belly that we see a lot of older people have around. Especially men you see the belt and the belly hanging over. That kind of fat in the belly, it’s wrapped around the internal organs, that’s really inflammatory and it causes increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other diseases in health for sure. I’m not surprised once she figured out how to eat and reduce inflammation through her diet that she lost weight.
Yeah, and she tried all sorts of other diets and they didn’t make a difference. She went gluten-free and so forth. It was the nightshades that made the difference.
Wow! Look at that! What a great story that is!
If you do this Elimination Reintroduction Diet plan, how many weeks or months total to go through this whole process? It seems kind of daunting to me.
Three weeks. Tell me, you couldn’t do something for three weeks?
I could do it for three weeks but it sounds like there’s much more to it than that because there are three weeks just to eliminate everything.
It’s three weeks in and maybe three weeks out. Three weeks in and then another two to three weeks out. Here’s the thing, if I said to you after three weeks, reintroduce the food you miss the most, you just pick the food that you just can’t believe you had to give up for three weeks and you put that one in first. Right away, you’re less stressed because you can eat your favorite food or the one you’re finding the most challenging to keep out because you go out to dinner or whatever the one that pose the most challenge to you, reintroduce that one first. Hopefully, it won’t be a problem so you can keep eating it because then you end up with a disappointment of, “Oh my God! That food’s not good for me. I’m really mortified.” I will say, what comes next? It brings me to remember to sit to answer that question before you ask it of me which that would be the next question is, “Okay, I just discovered this food caused symptoms so I have to take this food out forever, how awful.” The answer is no. What’s going to happen is it takes about six months for the body’s reaction for that food to completely go away, the memory.
You know how I sort of made that association for you before about the leaky gut and the food sensitivities? What happens is you need to remove the food for a few months. Let’s just say three months strict. During those three months, you need to repair your gut. We talked about how do you repair your gut. We talked about using the herbs to treat the dysbiosis but after you do those herbs, you need to do a few things. You want to take a probiotic and you want to take something called Glutamine powder. Glutamine, I say powder because I usually give it in a loose powder and have people take a teaspoon and mix it cause you can get higher doses in that way but you could do capsules. Glutamine helps seal the damage to the intestinal lining because we want to plug those holes so you don’t have leaky gut anymore. You fix leaky gut and again people could find on the internet and I can help you with this. I don’t know that you can necessarily get everything you need from me just to explain it at this minute but if you can do it with an online program, you can do it with a little support.
What it means is fix the flora which is with those herbs. You’re going to remove the bad stuff then we’re going to reintroduce the good stuff which means that you take probiotics and you take some Glutamine to repair the lining. You do that for a period of at least six months taking all that repair stuff. Meanwhile, you’re resting your body for three months, like 100% none of that food. After three months, you can see about whether or not you can go to a 95% rule where most of the time you don’t need it and you just have it on occasion but you can always keep retesting yourself to see when you’ll be ready to eat the food again. You might be able to tolerate it once a week instead of everyday after you do the whole experiment. You might find that, “You know what? I can’t really eat this food everyday. Let’s see if I can have it as a treat once a month for now, once a week, once a month while I’m repairing my gut.”It takes about six months for the body’s reaction for that food to completely go away, the memory. Click To Tweet
This is very classic Functional Medicine. I’m giving your listeners and you an understanding about how we work with people in functional medicine. I’m repairing the functional foundational systems in your body that need to function well for you to have vibrant health.
You mentioned leaky gut and one thing I heard is that popcorn is really not good for you because it pokes holes in your gut and creates leaky gut, is that true?
No. I’m laughing because the visual of that as you said it made total sense to me. You know I’m thinking, “Well, that looks like it should do that.” I will say about corn, let me say yes and no. It’s not an unequivocal no. The popcorn itself, the structure of it isn’t the issue and people with Diverticulosis which is pouches in their colon they have more of an issue for corn getting stuck in the pouches. Those are really the people that might have to think about that. But corn, corn is the number one, no not the number one, Soy is probably the number one but Soy & Corn are the top two most genetically modified food products that we eat. I know we’ve been on for awhile so I don’t how much time we have to get to genetically modified foods. But GMO’s, what does that mean? What it means is that the DNA of the corn itself has been altered. Basically, they insert barrelled genes into the corn so that the corn can be resistant to usually roundup. This is a whole month’s answer roundups discussion, which you probably had before. Not getting political, it’s just really about creating corn that can survive when it’s doused with roundup. You can douse the whole field with Roundup, kill all the weeds and the corn is standing there really happy and fine. What does that mean? It means that the corn that you’re eating is not only genetically modified which has been shown to damage the tight junction, which is what causes the leaky guts. GMO foods damage the intestinal lining and those are the most highly pesticide filled foods because look at how much pesticides they can dump on those plants because they’re not afraid to kill the corn. There’s a lot of pesticides and pesticides damage your intestinal lining. If you eat popcorn everyday and it’s not…
It’s about balance and it’s about educating yourself so you know how to make choices that will be preventive and reversing the damage you might have done.
Not organic, non-GMO, then you can definitely be damaging your intestinal lining and increasing your leaky guts. I had to qualify that a little bit but I had to laugh because I just got that visual of the kernels poking holes. It’s not quite like that but corn, you have to be mindful. This is again bringing us back to how do you survive in a toxic world? I’m not trying to end this on its sour note of fatalism of how awful the world is but we can’t live in a bubble and we have to learn how to protect ourselves and make choices that will help us protect ourselves from the incoming. There’s a lot of incoming in the food and if you can learn about making quality choice to protect yourself, it will help and a lot of this food does damage your gut. That’s my corn story. My husband is the funniest guy, he has regimens that I don’t know how anybody who could live on a routine like him but Wednesday night is popcorn night. Everyday of the week he has a different breakfast. Every night of the week, one night’s pistachio night and one night’s popcorn night. He has popcorn night one night a week. I have non-GMO organic popcorn. He eats his popcorn every Wednesday. He really looks forward to it. I think that it’s about balance and it’s about educating yourself so you know how to make choices that will be preventive and reversing the damage you might have done.
Let’s go through a bit of a lightning round here because I know we don’t have a lot of time left, maybe, under 10 minutes. Let’s jump into a lighting round here. Fecal transplants, are those something that are going to be necessary for some folks and if so, when would you prescribe something like that?
Oh, that’s so great! Fecal Transplants for people who don’t know what they are, the technologies evolving better and better where we actually basically take the stool from one person and give it to the other person. The idea is that it’s very hard to change your gut flora. I made it sound like it’s so easy with herbs. It’s actually not that easy. Sometimes you need to retreat yourself. You take herbs and do it for a month. You might have to do it six months from now and another round of a month depending on Rheumatoid Arthritis people, I do two months of herbs and usually six months later we need to do another round. It ain’t easy and so people are coming up with ideas for other ways to improve the microbiome. What I would say about fecal transplants is that the research is unequivocally positive for treating a condition called C. Difficile, Clostridium Difficile, which has been notoriously refractory to conventional treatment. It’s an infection in the gut.
Fecal transplant turns out to be one of these things that seem to work for C. Difficile people. It really hasn’t been studied in anybody else. My opinion is that it’s not really ready for prime time yet and one of the reasons is that A, it hasn’t been studied with anyone else. B, the donors, we’re really just first learning how to screen donors, meaning, there’s something I’ve been talking about this word Microbium. There’s actually something called the Virum. Meaning, you know those hundred trillion bacteria in your gut, it turns out there’s probably a trillion viruses there too. There are all sorts of other things in there that we don’t even know. The DNA of the organisms in our gut probably outnumber the DNA, the amount of genetic material that’s in our lining or gut is probably more than our own DNA. I’m concerned that we can unwittingly take from a donor, give another person their stool and there are all sorts of other things we’re giving them that we don’t even know. We know that, that’s the truth. We don’t know everything that’s in the transplant. That’s why I just don’t think it’s ready for prime time and most people will say that. We don’t know how to screen donors. We don’t know really who would benefit. Not everybody gets better. Some people actually, I have anecdotally some people who, patients of mine who have found a place to go do it just because they were insistent. They want to try it and they actually didn’t get better at all. It’s not ready for prime time. That’s my lightning on that.
Okay, what about Colonics?
Oh, Gosh. I had a whole debate with that. I love all my patients and I have a very fond patient who is here this week she gets her weekly Colonic, we had to debate about every time she comes in. There are no studies, the jury is out on that but here is the thing, I think Colonics are well studied more from the perspective of the cancer world where did they a lot of coffee enemas and how it triggers biome release and dumping of toxins into the colon and for excretion. There’s some that, depending of the kind of Colonic you do or the kind of Enema you do, can be enhanced detoxification so maybe. But I do believe the Colon is a self-cleaning organ I have had people on the other extreme that have become addicted maybe is the wrong word but dependent on Colonics in order to have a bowel movement. They don’t feel really completely evacuated unless they go for their Colonic. I think that there’s a risk for that because you actually can become dependent on it so you don’t end up with the adequate of your own peristalsis.
90% of your flora is supposed to be in your colon and only 10% should be in your small intestine.
The other thing is that I am concerned about backflow where you’re pushing stool a little bit up into the small bowel and 90% of your flora is supposed to be in your colon and only 10% should be in your small intestine so you have to be really careful not to backflow. There is an epidemic now of something called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO. I think you have to be careful and so, if you’re a person with SIBO I probably wouldn’t start getting a lot of Colonics. You have to be careful about the retrograde flow up there but I believe the Colon should be self-cleaning organ. I do worry about sort of stripping the bacteria if you do it too often. I think once a month maybe would be fine but I worry a little bit about the weekly sort of Colonic.
Okay. What about parasite cleanses?
Actually, I don’t think that’s so bad. I don’t think you need it that often. I think you could do it once a year. I don’t quite know what that means but I think when you parasite cleanse would have meant herbs like Artemysia, that kind of thing. I am constantly surprised by how many parasites they find in my patients. I do believe in clearing them out. I do a lot of work with autoimmunity. There’s a whole another discussion to be had on this hygiene hypothesis or the epidemic of absence. How worms are being used to treat autoimmune disease, you swallow the worms and it tones the immune system. There is a debate about that but I find really that systemic triggering its systemic inflammation that parasites are an issue. I test for them and definitely treat them. I think it would be fine just like I think it would be good to probably do an herbal gut cleanse every year just to prune the inner garden because we are just bombarded by everything. Most people probably benefit from that so I’m okay with that.
What’s the test for parasites?
That’s just in the regular stool tests that we do.
You can do that through your conventional doctor, you can get a stool for overum parasites. But if you go to any of the Genova, like the ones I mentioned before, they are doing the microbiome and they are also testing for parasites. When in doubt and here’s one of the ways to go further and really look for parasites is if you have in your blood when you do a regular CBC with your doctor which is your blood count, if you have something called eosinophil that are high for no reason and no one knows why you have high eosinophil, which is a marker for allergy, I always go looking for parasites in the gut. If you have chronic hives, chronic rashes, look more aggressively for parasites. In New York city, we have a parasite doctor that we actually wouldn’t doubt. I send people to him and he actually does a rectal swab in the office and he looks under a microscope and looks for parasites. If you have chronic hives, chronic rashes or eosinophil in the covet, it’s a regular routine blood test you’ll get every year from your doctor. Strange eosinophils nobody knows why could definitely get tested, try to find and see if you have a parasite.
Do you want to mention the doctor’s name in New York City that does the test?
Sure, his name is Kevin Cahill. In Conventional Medicine, he’s like an old guy with big white bushy eyebrows. He’s a character and a half. We all, in the integrative world, and I’m in Westchester, New York, the whole metro region, we all send people to him. We all really like him. There are conventional people who think he over-diagnoses parasites but I haven’t found that to be the case. Me and my colleagues haven’t found that to be the case. We do send people to him. I have sent people to him where he doesn’t find anything.
Okay, great. Heavy metals, what kind of testing do you recommend? How often do you recommend it? How do you suggest somebody chelate out the heavy metal if it turns out high like mercury levels?
The first thing when we are talking about heavy metals, what metals are we talking about? Mercury has a lot of attention because we all have a lot of exposure, if you eat fish, you’re getting mercury. The lead that’s stored in the body, a lot of people have accumulated lead in the body from all the years of lead that we had abolished lead in the environment, but there’s still lead in all fruits and vegetables. We all have and I find most people have a little bit of lead. There’s a way to test for metals. There are different tests you can do that will give you different information. If you go to your regular doctor and ask to test your mercury in your blood test with them, they’re going to do a serum mercury level, which only is not really going to pick up much, it’s only going to pick up whatever you just ate in the past couple weeks, in the fish you’ve been eating. That being said, sometimes I pick up really high levels and the public health department calls and it’s like a whole thing.
My white-collar guys, actually my husband was one of this, he was eating sushi. This is back 10 years ago, you are supposed to be under 10, his mercury levels were 75 in his blood. You can pick it up that way. That’s just telling you what your very, very current exposure is. The blood is just a compartment where it’s traveling its way in and out to somewhere else. It’s like a fair. It doesn’t stay there. The serum is only 10% and the mercury lives in the serum, most of it even lives in the red blood cells. The next test that I do and I don’t do that much serum testing but I test most of my new patients a red blood cell mercury test. Red blood cells live three to four months and so you can see I do a heavy metals for red blood cell test and that is Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic. You can get a sense of ongoing exposure. It is a little bit of a broader view of in the past three months how much accumulated mercury do you have in your bloodstream? That’s the second test I do.
You can learn a lot by just asking a lot of questions. I wrote a book called The Immune System Recovery Plan. It’s a 4-step program for treating autoimmune disease. It’s food, stress, gut, and toxins. In the toxins section, I have a whole self-test where you can figure out, “Does it look like I have got a lot of toxins in my body from my history?” You can do questionnaires to figure out, “Do I have a lot of exposure?” The next test to do where you can look for the total burden of toxins where we think it’s more of an assessment of the total burden of toxins in your body. It’s an overnight urine collection for heavy metals where you take a chelation pill before you go to bed. It goes and it grabs the metals and yanks them into your urine and you can collect the urine overnight and see what you pull out. That is more of a bona fide functional medicine approved, body burden metals test. It goes beyond the current exposure. I don’t do that test for a few months. I don’t usually do that right at the beginning because that will also grab all the surface stuff. I explain it like this, if you have a swimming pool and it’s the fall. All the leaves are on the surface and then there’s stuff in the water.
If you do the Chelation Provoke Test, the overnight test, at the beginning and you’re sampling the surface and the water. What I would like to do is clean up the surface a little bit. We look at current exposure. Cut back on the fish a little bit, do the red blood cell test first and see whether or not it looks like there’s a lot of exposure. I wait a couple of months while we reduce that. Cut back on your fish once a week. Support the liver with detox. I don’t do Chelation right away. The body should be able to excrete the metals and if it’s not then it’s because you have a deficiency. Your liver is weak. Your liver filter isn’t optimized, it needs to tune-up. I do a lot of liver tune-up work. We do a lot of liver tune-up and we can talk about what that means in a minute. It’s really like a detox program, a classic function. A detox program that tune up the liver, get some of the surface metals out. I’ll go back and do an overnight urine collection to try and look at what’s in the water and not just the surface. Does that make sense?
Yup, that’s great.
I do different levels, it’s really a bit of a conversation. I do Chelation sometimes but I really do a lot of work first on helping the detox system work better because what does Chelation mean? Chelation means that you take those pills and they are going to grab the metals and yank them out through the kidneys. What happens is when you do that, if there are a lot of toxins in the body and a lot of metals if you have a very hard toxin load and the body’s excretion mechanisms aren’t really tuned up and working well, you could recirculate those metals and they don’t find a way out. Do you see what I mean? I’m a very cautious, conservation Chelator. That’s what I do after I’ve done a lot of tuning up if we need to. A lot of times for me, I had high very mercury levels 15 years ago. I had Hashimoto’s, very high mercury and I never ended up doing any Chelation because I worked on supporting my liver, cleaning up my world, getting rid of my exposure, lot of antioxidants, B vitamins helped my liver do a better job, detoxing, acetylcysteine, boosts glutathione, which is a really important antioxidant that helps excrete mercury. We worked that way. Boost the whole detox system and your metals will go down and you can clean them out that way but sometimes it is not enough and I’ll do Chelation but it comes last.
That’s great, one last question. Should we be concerned with the Fukushima Exposure to radioactivity in our fish and seafood that we eat?
I think so. Actually, I’m a big user of Seaweed because I try to use food as medicine. For getting Iodine I tell people to use Kombu, and eat Seaweed salad. But in my home I eat a lot of Kombu, I take strips and I throw it in when I make soup or boil beans. I switched over, now I’m using Main Coast organic from the Main Coast over on the Atlantic Coast after Fukushima because the algae that’s harvested in Japan, I don’t want to use it anymore. It’s that things to leaking and there’s radioactive now across. There’s concern even about the Alaskan Salmon now. That is one of the safest fishes, the Alaskan King Salmon in terms of Mercury. I think that people, actually I had a patient today who just said this to me earlier today. She said she knows and I don’t remember the person’s name, my patient is a film producer and she said that she interviewed a [01:08:49] level person in today’s world of marine biology, the marine and the oceans. She doesn’t eat seafood anymore because our oceans are so polluted in toxic you can’t control what the fish are eating and what they are exposed to anymore. I do think we have come to a place where we actually do have to be very concerned about the quality and what we are getting through seafood. I eat fish once a week. I try to be selective on what I choose while the Alaskan King Salmon but I am concerned about what’s coming across from Japan.
Yeah, you probably don’t eat Tilapia for example?
No, I do not. I’m also involved in the food business here called Organic Farmer. But anyway, we’ve been vegan up till now, but we’re thinking of caring fish. I’ve been doing fish, so I’ve been doing a lot of research, actually, on-farm salmon over in Ireland and Scotland. Actually, there are some really good companies doing some good stuff that are measuring the Mercury in their feeds. I asked them for data on how much Mercury is in their feed. They’re measuring metals and they’re really doing good husbandry, good farming practices, sustainable, really eco-friendly. There’s a really big push. I’m almost thinking that might even be better than not knowing where your fish comes from is knowing where your fish comes from. Definitely, don’t do farmed fish that is not from the US, other than if you know where the farm is specifically. I’m talking about becoming associated with a specific farm in Scotland.
Actually, whole foods which is very interesting when I was doing the research on these whole foods they have this sustainable farm. They call it Salmon, it actually has really strict, they contracted it out with these farms 10 years ago. They told the farms, “Here are our criteria for what you have to do to raise our fish and you have to use our method not your own organic standards.” They have been using these standards even stricter than organic fish farms. That’s actually not too bad. I still think you have to limit it to only once a week, otherwise, your Mercury levels are going to go up. Who knows where else the fish is coming from. This is maybe a good way to wrap things up. You have to know where your food’s coming from. You have to know what you’re eating ate. It’s the bottom line. Know where the food came from. You have to know whatever you are eating, you have to know what it was fed. If you can’t follow your food down the food chain, then don’t eat it. It is sort of the Michael Polin stuff, he wrote that book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of my favorite books when it first came out that I read years ago. Here’s how he wrote the whole book because he wanted to follow where the food came that was sitting on his plate for dinner. He did all this research to figure out where all the food came from and it’s really hard to find where your food came from. There’s a whole local movement in our country now and it’s amazing, small farms. Support the small farms, support your local farm. Know where your food comes from because that’s the only way we are going to make sure that we have healthy food choices in front of us.
Yeah, for sure. I don’t recall if you have mentioned the detail on the liver tune-up. Is there a resource where people could learn more how to do that tune-up or anything?
First of all, www.blumhealthmd.com is my website. I definitely have information there for you. I do a lot of Facebook Lives and postings. You can ask me questions and we do a lot of free discussions and giveaways. That’s the help part. In general, if you just Google Functional Medicine Detox, you’d probably find hundreds of people. In my world, all my colleagues and coaches, everybody offers detox programs. The products that I use are generally from Metagenics. I use something called Ultra Clear Plus Renew, it’s a protein shake you drink everyday. Then, you take some antioxidant pills. I use their product called Advil Clear. You drink the shake and you take some Advil Clear. You do a detox elimination diet with that. With the same elimination diet pretty much a little stricter, that I shared with you before you could do that diet. Drink a liver support shake everyday and take some liver support supplements and that is your detox. It’s actually not that hard. I also suggest if you think you have a lot of metal exposure, to take something called Acetylcysteine. Any good supplement company can do that. You can buy Acetylcysteine at whole foods. It’s easy to find. It’s called NAC and it actually helps boost Glutathione in the body which is one of the body’s most important detox enzymes.
Here’s the thing, antioxidants, fruits and vegetables, color, and greens, kale. This is the whole kale movement. Choosing organic fresh-pressed juicing. Bright colored, not high in sugar though, you want to do vegetable juices. You want to choose a juice that is low on sugar. I’m talking about juice companies that talk about juice cleanses. This can be very good to supplement. These are liver support products. They should be organic and they should be low in sugar, 15 grams of sugar, or less in the bottle. You can support your liver with antioxidants and greens. Here at Plum Center for health, as a staff, I run a group detox program here four times a year and the whole community come. We get groups come and my nutritionist runs them. They get email support and we do it as a group because we can’t live in a bubble. I think that every year, everybody should do what we were saying about should you do a parasite cleanse every year. Well, you should do detox every year. All it means is supporting your liver with an intensive liver support program. Every year you do a clean diet with a lot of liver support in your food, and in some supplements. It just reboots your liver and reduces your toxin load.
This is the other thing that I also want to point out that it’s very easy to get hung up on heavy metals and Mercury. But, you have to think of it more of toxic load because our world is full of toxins, pesticides. We are filled with plastic residues. We are filled with metals for cleaning supplies, solvents. Then you can be a high-risk person if you are an artist, there are all sorts of ways you’re getting toxins. You have to think of it that you are filling up your body. If your body is full of many toxins, you’ll be even less likely to manage that mercury because it is just yet another toxin that you are adding on the list which is why Chelation isn’t the ultimate answer for all your toxin problems because your liver has to excrete everything. It’s not just about excreting your metals, you need to have a really fine-tuned liver. A liver tune-up every year to keep your toxin low down. It will enable you to manage the incoming as it comes in. I think it’s really important.
Yeah, that’s great, liver tune-up every year. Alright, you got me sold. I think I should do it. I hope all our listeners do too. If you want to send people to a particular place to find out about working with you or to get your book The Immune System Recovery Plan, you want them all to go to www.blumhealthmd.com?
Yes, I want everybody to go to www.blumhealthmd.com. I also have coaching, I have an amazing coach. You can work with her from distance, Skype, whatever. It’s very easy. As well as online program, easy do it yourself support, downloadable guides, all of that stuff. My goal is to really make this accessible because everybody can’t come and see me. I have a second book coming out called Healing Arthritis. That will be out at the end of the year. That won’t be ready yet when this podcast is up. Just sign up for my newsletter from the website then you’ll be able to have access to information on that. The other thing is I do Facebook Live every Tuesday at [1:00]PM, Eastern Standard Time, EST. Lunchtime Tuesdays with Dr. Blum. I have a topic every week. I also take questions so find me on Facebook. You have to like my fan page and then you can get the feed. It’s a way we can interact. You can log on and ask me questions about detox if you want. I do 15 minutes of talking on a topic and I take questions. It’s really a place to find me. I’m happy to talk to people there.
I’ll include links to all these things. Your Facebook Live, Facebook Fanpage.
That’ll be great. It’ll make it easier.
Your www.blumhealthmd.com. Also, some of the books that we’ve mentioned in this episode like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, will include links of all of this stuff.
Sure, we’ll do that.
That will be at getyourselfoptimized.com along with the transcript of this episode, a checklist of actions to take from the discussion that we had. You’ll be able to quickly see alright, I need to do this, that and the other thing. I need to get the supplements. I need to whatever. Of course, remember that standard disclaimers apply. This is not medical advice blah, blah, blah.
Exactly. Those are just random supplements that I use in my practice. I can’t vouch for them either. I’m not specifically prescribing them either.
Very good. Yes. With all that said. Go to getyourselfoptimized.com. Go to www.blumhealthmd.com. This is Stephan Spencer, your host, signing off. We’ll catch you on the next episode of Get Yourself Optimized.
- Susan Blum
- Facebook – Susan Blum
- Twitter – Susan Blum
- Instagram – Susan Blum
- The Immune System Recovery Plan
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- The Dr. Oz Show
- Cardio CRP
- Hemoglobin A1c
- Lipoprotein (a)
- Ketogenic diet
- Low glycemic diet
- Paleo diet
- The Environmental Working Group
- The Clean 15
- The Dirty Dozen
- JUPITER trial
- Enterol Labs
- Genova Diagnostics
- Doctor’s Data
- Diagnos-TechsDesigns for Health
- GI Microb-X
- Apex Energetics
- GI Synergy
- CandiBactin-BR from Metagenics
- Tricycline from Allergy Research GroupBiocidin
- IgG test
- Visceral adipose tissue
- Kevin Cahill
- Clostridium Difficile
- Organic Pharmer
- UltraClear Plus
Checklist of Actionable Takeaways
Find out my risk for cardiovascular disease by getting lab tests and looking at family history. Get a Cardio CRP, find out my blood sugar marker, and get my cholesterol checked.
Eat whole foods. Food that looks like it was picked from the ground. Not processed foods, oils, and sugars.
Know where my food comes from and make choices that will protect myself from pesticides, toxins, and GMO food that is harmful to me.
Limit my Salmon to once a week and be mindful about where it comes from to avoid raising my mercury levels. Alaskan Salmon and possibly Salmon that is farmed in the US under extremely strict guidelines are safer options.
Try an Elimination Reintroduction Diet to see if I have any food sensitivities. For three weeks eliminate common triggers: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and eggs. Also, cut out sugar, and processed foods. This also works for nightshades: tomato, potato, eggplant, and peppers.
Get a stool test to understand the condition of my microbiome and if I am susceptible to things like autoimmune disorders and leaky gut.
Use herbs to treat leaky gut or dysbiosis. I want to fix the flora with the herbs and then reintroduce the good stuff by taking probiotics and adding a teaspoon of Glutamine powder to help repair the intestinal lining.
Eliminate stress and educate myself to make the right choices because it is about balance.
Support my liver with antioxidants and greens. Find out if a liver cleanse is right for me on Dr. Blum’s website BlumHealthMD.com.
Read, “The Immune System Recovery Plan” by Dr. Susan Blum and find out about Dr. Blums coaching options on her website.
About Susan Blum
A true pioneer in Functional Medicine, Dr. Susan Blum is a nationally recognized clinician, speaker, author, and teacher. As the Founder and Director of Blum Center for Health and through her education, writing, research, and medical mentorship program, she is revolutionizing the healthcare industry and the lives of those with chronic illness.
A member of the Medical Advisory Board for the Dr. Oz Show and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she is on the Board of Directors for the True Health Initiative in the College of Lifestyle Medicine. Dr. Blum completed her Internal Medicine training at St-Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital and is Board Certified in Preventive Medicine, certified in Functional Medicine, is Senior Faculty with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, and author of The Immune System Recovery Program.
Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments, or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Stephan Spencer, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.
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