My guest this week is Kiran Krishnan, a Research Microbiologist who has been involved in the dietary supplement and nutrition field for the past 18 years. He comes from a strict research background and established a clinical research organization where he designed and conducted dozens of human clinical trials in human nutrition. Kiran is a Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Microbiome Labs. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board and a Science Advisor for 7 other companies in the industry.
In his career, he has developed over 50 private label nutritional products. He is a frequent lecturer on the human microbiome at several health summits, medical and nutrition conferences, radio shows and has appeared in several international documentaries.
In this episode, Kiran and I talk about the important role bacteria plays in our gut microbiome, its connection to the brain and how it can directly affect children’s behavior. Children suffering from anxiety and stress, or who are on the spectrum can benefit in different ways by looking into and addressing their gut health. Experiencing a disruption or imbalance in the gut microbiome does not always manifest in gastrointestinal symptoms, it is also common for children to experience behavioral alterations without any GI symptoms present. Learn more about Kiran and ways to treat and manage gut health here.
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What is the gut microbiome?
- Think of the microbiome as an ecosystem made up of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in your gut
The Role of Bacteria in Our Bodies
- We have over 100 trillion bacteria cells in our system that are vital to our everyday function
- About 90% of our day-to-day metabolic biochemical functions that differentiate us as humans come from those bacteria
Connecting The Microbiome and Behavior
- These bacteria in our gut microbiome have a direct connection to our brain through the vagus nerve
- The vagus nerve allows bacteria to send signals to the brain that affect how we behave
- There are organisms in the microbiome that can heighten anxiety and increase stress levels, as well as, organisms that can give you a sense of calm
How Our Microbiome Gets Disrupted
- For humans to optimally function, the healthy balance of the bacteria in the gut microbiome is essential
- A single course of antibiotics can throw this balance off entirely and result in:
- Heightened anxiety due to the growth of particular bacterial strains that cause an anxious response, and decrease the growth of strains that cause calming responses
- Examples of recovery time for your gut microbiome due to specific antibiotics
- A 10-day course of Clindamycin can take your body up to 2 years to recover
- Use of a Z-Pak can take almost a year to recover
- A single 600mg dose of Augmentin knocks your gut bacteria down by 99%
Rebalancing the Gut Microbiome
- Every single person has a unique microbiome, therefore, what works for one person might not work for another
- Diversity in the microbiome is very important
- Adding diverse probiotic strains to your routine like Just Thrive probiotics can aid in strengthening immune health within the digestive system
Where to learn more about Kiran Krishnan…
Episode Intro … 00:00:30
The Role of Bacteria in Our Body … 00:04:50
Microbiome & Behavior Connection … 00:06:25
How Our Microbiome Gets Disrupted … 00:16:05
Rebalancing the Gut Microbiome … 00:22:50
Episode Wrap Up … 00:36:30
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Hi everyone, welcome to the show — I am Dr. Nicole, and on today’s episode we are talking about the gut-behavior connection. Specifically, we are going to talk about the gut microbiome, the colonies of bacteria and other organisms in our gut and how this impacts our brain and behavior. Now, I know that this is a topic that some of you may have looked into already. You may be using gut kinds of treatments with your child, and for some of you this may be new information and you’ve maybe not considered before or learned about how what’s going on in your child’s gut and specifically in their gut microbiome is impacting their brain function and behavior.
So it’s a huge issue that I see in my clinical practice with kids and adults. And the cool thing is, when you understand what’s going in terms of that gut-brain connection and that gut microbiome connection, there are some really great solutions that we can use that can have a really positive impact on symptoms like behaviors, mood, anxiety, learning — those kinds of things.
So I’m excited to have Kiran Krishnan as my guest today to talk about this. He is one of the most knowledgeable people I know in this field when it comes to talking about the gut microbiome. Kiran is a research microbiologist and has been involved in the dietary supplement and nutrition industry for the past 18 years. He comes from a strict research background, having spent several years with hands-on research and development in the fields of molecular medicine and microbiology. He’s established a clinical research organization where he has designed and conducted dozens of human clinical trials in human nutrition, is a co-founder and chief scientific officer at Microbiome Labs and he has developed over 50 private label nutrition products throughout his career.
Kiran lectures frequently on topics like the human microbiome at medical and nutrition conferences, he has a popular microbiome series educational webinar and is a guest expert on radio and all kinds of media. He is currently involved in 10 novel human clinical trials on probiotics and the human microbiome. Kiran, you got your hand in everything related to the human gut microbiome in this field. Welcome to the show, I’m so excited to have you here.
Thank you so much for having me, it’s a pleasure. Yes — so we do find our ways to stay busy and I have a microbiome constitution that makes me want to keep going out there and doing stuff. But you know what’s so important about it is that all of this stuff is so relevant and so new. We’re just now started to understand how the human body works, which is so amazing. When you think about the thousands of years of evolution that we’ve had and millions of years of evolution — hundreds of years of medical research and science, you know all the way from the days of Hippocrates and now we come back full circle to understand that it’s this ecology that we have in us that really controls everything. It’s really fascinating and we now understand disease process much better.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
It’s so true and this is such an emerging field you know — 10 years ago there was some talk about the gut microbiome when I first started working with kids and doing this kind of work more than 20 years ago, nobody was talking about this stuff and the people who were, it was considered kind of fringy, right? And now we fast forward to today and this is just a booming era of research on this and so much more that we’re understanding about specifically this gut-brain connection.
How much gut health and the gut microbiome influences our health overall but specifically how it impacts our brains. And many times when I introduce this idea to parents, they’re like, “Well, I don’t get it. You’re talking about things going on about how my child is digesting food and what’s going on with their allergies and their bowel movements and all of that but I’m here because my kid has anxiety.” Or “My kid is melting down and throwing tantrums all the time. How are these connected?” And really educating people about how much, as you said, there are these control mechanisms between the gut and the brain and how impactful they are on one another. So I’d love to start out by having you give some sort of introduction to that. Why are we talking about gut bacteria in relation to behavior? What’s the connection and the linkage there?
Yeah, so it’s important to understand for your audience, what role the bacteria play in our overall day-to-day function to begin with, right? So we’ve got somewhere around 10 Trillion cells that make up the human body. We’ve got over 100 Trillion bacteria cells in our system. So we’re outnumbered 10 to 1 just on cell count alone. And then the even more profound side of it is our DNA. We think we’re really cool, right? We’re at the top of the food chain, we’re at the top of the evolutionary ladder and yet we’ve only got about 22,000 functional genes.
And that sounds like a lot but then when you compare it to a rice plant or an earthworm, these really primitive things that we think of — they have twice as many functional genes as the human system does. So imagine a rice plant has 38,000 functional genes and we only have 22,000 — so then the question is: How is it that we are at the top of the food chain, top of the evolutionary ladder? Well, it’s because have about 3 and a half million bacterial genes in our system that we use every day for normal human function. We would cease to exist if we didn’t have all of that code, all of that information — all of the things that they produce and in fact to a point where the best estimates are that 90% of all our day-to-day metabolic biochemical functions, just to be a human come from bacteria.
So that’s how impactful they are. Now they also have a direct connection to our brain. Something called the Vagus Nerve which connects the gut directly to the brain and it allows bacteria in your gut, which is where the vast majority of bacteria that live in and on your body are — it allows those bacteria to actually send signals, like neurotransmitters and peptides and all these things, they can affect how the human host is behaving, how the human host perceives the world around them, how the human host deals with stress — all of those things are intimately affected by those bacteria sitting in your gut and sending these signals up and down. It’s also really important to note that we know and have known for a while that neurotransmitters in humans affect our behavior, right? The happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine and then the stress hormones like cortisol and so on, all of these things affect our behavior, our mood, our function.
With that in mind, it’s important to note that to the microbiome — so the collection of organisms in our gut, they produce all of those hormones. And in fact, there is evidence that shows that in fact, our cells learn how to produce those hormones from the bacteria, right? So they were making them first and then, as a host, we started incorporating those hormones into our own communication systems and then we started taking from the bacteria the codes to produce those hormones in our own organs. But there are good studies that show that still, we depend on microbially derived hormones for a lot of our function. And so they control everything, we’re really kind of a walking, talking rainforest. They are the puppet masters in many ways, we are the puppet. And we need to understand them to figure out how to fix this broken puppet.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
That’s a great way of thinking about it. We tend to think that we’re at the top of the evolutionary chain, we’re in control of all these — and what you’re saying, from the researches, all of these lower level organisms really play such a big role. And I think that it’s easy for us to take it for granted when that whole system is working well, right?
And this is why we tend not to recognize the connection between these things because we were functioning well and when we’re feeling good we don’t think about our microbiome, we just take for granted that all that works. And then when we start to have issues or our kids start to have issues and we start to peel back the layers and look at that — suddenly we become so aware of the role that that microbiome is playing and more specifically what can happen for us symptom wise when there are problems with that gut microbiome.
And many of the kids that I see have both physical symptoms — even gut-levels symptoms: constipation, diarrhea, bloating, food allergies, that kind of stuff. And they are having what we would consider more brain types of symptoms, right? Like maybe depression, anxiety, behavior issues — those types of things. But I also see kids and young adults who don’t report any GI types of symptoms. They’re not having any issues with bowel movements, they’re not having any issues with food — none of that. They’re having those mental health symptoms but still what you’re saying is the gut is still an important area to look at and that microbiome is still part of that picture, even when a person isn’t having those GI kinds of symptoms.
Yeah, absolutely. And in fact, in the microbiome, in terms of it can impact your mood or your behavior — this finite balance is within there. So there are organisms within your microbiome itself that can heighten anxiety and increase stress levels and organisms that can make your calmer. They both exist and coexist in the microbiome. And really what you experience depends on their balance in the moment, right? So a single course of antibiotics, for example, can throw off the balance and in fact cause a heightened sense of anxiety. Like one of the side effects of the Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, one of the common side effects is heightened anxiety.
And so people wonder, well how is it that an antibiotic can give you anxiety? People can associate an antibiotic with diarrhea and things like that. But the reason they can give you anxiety is because they increase the growth of that particular strains that cause that anxious response and it can significantly decrease the growth of the strains that cause more calming responses. And the reason why these bacteria even have these effects in the body are mixed. Some of them are a side effect of what they’re producing. So there are certain organisms that produce lots of serotonin. In fact, 95% of the serotonin in the body is produced in the gut itself. There are lots of organisms that produce high levels of dopamine.
Now they’re not necessarily producing it for the host. They’re not going, “I know you need this host, so I’m producing it for you.” They are producing it for their own benefit and then we happen to be able to use some of it as well because it is within our system. Now if that bacteria’s metabolism is low, if they’re harmed in some way — then serotonin production goes down. And the same way with the bacteria that produce more stress hormones. They can do that if their levels go up. So it’s really an ecology, it’s about balancing that ecology. And a lot of times, a sign of the imbalance would be the GI symptoms.
But again, the imbalance of the ecology might not necessarily lead to GI symptoms — it might lead to behavioral issues but then other things like seasonal allergies, or it might lead to rapid hair loss. It might lead to sleep issues. Those are other things that can also manifest themselves outside of the specific GI issues, but at the end of the day, one of the things we know of, we have good certainty these days is that the microbiome is playing a significant role in all of these things. And if you’re continuously trying to treat behavioral issues with focusing on the brain and you’re not thinking about the gut that’s controlling a lot of how the brain functions, then we’re missing a big part of success.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
So I think that’s so true, and even that mirrors my clinical journey too of going through all of my education in the realm of psychology, special education and all of those kinds of thing — it was all brain oriented, right? These are the things that we do, and it was really in doing that with kids and realizing — wait a second! Lots of kids aren’t consistently getting better. Things aren’t sticking. There’s got to be more layers. That’s really what got me interested in the whole realm of nutrition and functional medicine and gut microbiome and all of that because I just saw that just addressing this problem from a brain level perspective just wasn’t getting to where we needed to get for many kids.
Yeah, and we see for example — the use of SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Success rate of SSRIs is really poor. The success rate of antianxiety medication is really poor. So number one, why is it that these medications don’t work as well as you think they should? And number two, why is it that we’re having so much anxiety and stress and depression in society today? I mean, of course, any time you watch the news, it can be depressing — we all know that. But why is it that we haven’t been able to deal with the stresses of life the same way that people of a few generations ago did? Arguably, they had it even worse when it comes to economics and politics and world wars and all of that stuff going on? A lot of it can be tied back to a pattern of destruction of our gut microbiome.
So what we’ve done is we’ve evolved as this really intricate ecology of a species. We are a walking, talking rainforest. We are predominated by bacteria. We also require them to function on a day-to-day basis. So we’ve taken this construct that is an intimate ecology made up of a lot of bacteria that have to work in harmony, and we’ve put that construct in an antibacterial world. Everything around is us antibacterial. More than 50% of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, even according to the CDC. We’ve got fluoride in our drinking water, chlorine in our drinking water, we’ve got pesticides and herbicides all over our food products — everything around us kills bacteria.
And as we go down this road, as we keep killing our own ecology, we’re going to see more and more of these problems pop up. A lot of people always ask me, “How come we didn’t have as much autism 40 years ago? How come we didn’t have gluten sensitivity at the same rate? How come we didn’t have allergies?” Now every school has severe peanut allergy in some of the students in there, so all of this stuff ties back to the same issue of disrupting our ecology. So what we can do as individuals is understand what the issue is and then empower ourselves to fix those for ourselves and our family.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And I think that you’re touching on something that I think is good for people to understand, which is how is it that our gut microbiomes can get out of balance in the first place? You talked about how that balance of organisms and the balance of them working together is so important. And what you’re saying is: Historically as things have changed in the environment, our exposure to toxins, all of the things that kill bacteria — I know antibiotics use is a big one for a lot of the kids in the family that I see when I look back and I start asking questions about their early health history.
Many of these kids were kids who had a history of chronic ear infections or chronic some type of infectious process that was treated repeatedly with antibiotics at a very early age. Or even kids who were given antibiotics — newborns, during the birth process, right after birth, so what you’re saying is all of those kinds of exposures really play a role in disruption this microbiome. And it can happen really quickly, right? I mean I even see really young kids with all the evidence that points to a really disrupted microbiome. We’re not talking about something that necessarily happens over the course of years, right? I mean gut microbiome can get disrupted quickly.
Yeah, absolutely. It is an ecology like your garden would be. If you had a nice garden teeming with a bunch of good plants — imagine all of a sudden you went in there and threw a huge bucket of anti-plant toxin in there. Those plants would die, literally, overnight. Studies show that a single dose of Augmentin — 600 mg single dose of Augmentin knocks down all the bacteria in your gut by 99% percent. And they start to bounce back after about 8-12 hours, but they come back in different ratios than they were in before. And then multiple rounds of that really end up skewing your ecology quite a bit.
The Z-Pak, which is very popular for sinus infections and all of that — it takes your gut almost a year to recover from a Z-Pak. To a 10-day course of Clindamycin, which is very commonly used for upper respiratory infections and so on — it takes your body up to 2 years to recover from it. And imagine if you have multiple courses of that over a relatively short amount of time — you’re really devastating that ecology. On top of that, our foods contain… are full of roundup and all these herbicides that have been shown to kill good bacteria. So yeah, we have built ourselves through the process of evolution in a particular way, and we’ve put ourselves and what could possibly be the worst possible environment for how we’re built. It’s not surprising that all of these conditions continue to escalate and continue to increase in prevalence.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And I think where that shows up so acutely is in kids, especially younger kids, right? Because we talk about kids a lot as being the canary in the coal mine right now with a lot of what we created in the world and how that’s impacting our bodies and our brains, but I think you’re talking about some of these medications — it takes months or a year or 2 years for the gut microbiome to be able to bounce back.
We’re talking about 1 and 2 a 3-year-old kids who now have been — their whole gut microbiome has been devastated by these things and then if you think about the bounce back period for that, and all the important development that’s going to happen along that timeline where the gut microbiome is not operating the way that it should, and therefore the brain can’t function as well as it should, you really see it. It becomes a domino effect in a way.
Absolutely, and you know in fact there was a study that was published in 2017 that was quite interesting. When they looked at people in their late teens/early twenties that had significant health issues, they could trace back most of the onset of those health issues to some sort of trauma then that disrupted their microbiome. And that disruption in the microbiome at that time caused a neurological change in their brain and that cause a permanent trauma in the brain that now is manifesting itself a decade later in other forms — whether it’s social anxiety disorder or eating disorders, or even physical illnesses — autoimmune diseases and so on.
So absolutely. And you see the progression in kids so clearly. The science shows that the child’s microbiome becomes more like an adult microbiome right around 838 days after birth, so around 2 and a half years. And that’s why it’s no surprise that you start to see a lot of the behavioral effects of a damaged microbiome, including ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) showing up between 2 and a half and 3 years of age. You don’t see it as much in younger children in 1, 1 and half-year-olds, or even 2-year-olds — you start to see it between 2 and a half and 3 years of age.
That’s the important time when those microbes are supposed to be doing their job helping our brain develop, helping us develop the right type of social skills and so on and that’s lacking. In fact, it’s interesting, people often ask me why is — we always want to know the whys. Why is it that microbes would have an impact on our social skills and our social behavior? Well as it turns out, there is good evidence to support that that’s beneficial for the microbes, right? They don’t do things altruistically for us. They’re doing things to help themselves that inevitably help us. So when microbes increase social behavior in their host, it actually helps spread them because hosts end up becoming in closer physical contact with other people in the community, you end up having higher oxytocin levels, those oxytocin levels actually help support the metabolism of the bacteria. So they’re doing all of these things to help themselves, which indirectly helps the host as well.
So yeah, all those things — kids are the canary in the coal mine, that’s a great way to state it. Because a lot of us grew up in a time where our microbiomes were a little bit better and stronger and more robust. Kids now — you look at the prevalence rate of allergies and asthma and psoriasis and eczema and then of course mood and behavioral disorders. It is alarming. And that’s screaming to us, hey there’s something really going wrong here — and it’s really the microbiome.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
So that all paints a helpful, if not a little bit depressing picture of how we’ve got into these kinds of problems. Let’s shift gears and talk about the really amazing, hopeful, encouraging part of all of this. Which is now that we understand that the gut microbiome and this balance of organisms plays such an important role, there are things we can do about it, right?
Yeah, and that’s the most important message. You and I were just talking about a wonderful conference that goes on every year, called AutismOne. I’ve had the opportunity to speak there in the last few years. And my big message every time, I show all this science and all this important stuff, but the biggest message to the parents and everyone else in the audience is that the issues that are causing the problems that you’re dealing with in your children or yourself are all based on an ecological dysfunction. And because it’s an ecological dysfunction, we can change it. It’s not based on “You just have bad luck with the wrong genes”, right? And so genetic dysfunctions, we can’t change. But ecological dysfunctions, we can change. So that’s the hope, is that the vast majority of issues we are dealing with can be reversed by fixing the ecology. So yes, there are a lot of things we can do, that’s a great thing to talk about.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Good. So let’s focus on the realm of what people have probably heard of at some point, which is this idea of probiotics or macrobiotics. Taking things in supplement or food form that can help really restore this balance or strengthen the health and function of the gut microbiome. So let’s dive into that because you talk about it in such a helpful way.
Yeah, so probiotics are a very interesting construct. Now what’s important to know about probiotics is, the original probiotics, including the vast majority of ones that people have access to in-store shelves and online and all that were all developed well before we knew anything about the gut, right? So all of this stuff that we are talking about what we’ve learned about the gut — we’ve only really learned it in the last 9 or 10 years.
And the vast majority of probiotics in yogurts and all of that were developed decades ago. In fact, the first probiotic was developed back in 1902 by Élie Metchnikoff, a Russian scientist. And so probiotics have been around for a long time. The original idea behind probiotics was: Here’s a set of good, friendly bacteria that are beneficial. Let’s take them in at really high doses. They’ll go and live in your gut, and because they’re there — they’ll connect all of these functions that are good for you.
Now as we start to learn about the microbiome, that becomes a bit of a problem, that whole thinking. The reason for that is every individual has a completely different microbiome, right? If you and I did a genetic test on our chromosomes and DNA, we would show 99% or 99.5% similarity in our DNA. We’re both humans. The few differences in our genetics are the stuff that makes you a woman, makes me a man, gives you light colored hair, gives me dark colored hair and so on. But if we were to take a look at our microbiome we would be as little as 25% or 30% similar. We’d be 70%-80% different, right? The most unique thing about us is our microbiome.
I did studies on identical twins who have 100% the same genetics, came from the same mom — they can have up to 50% differences in their microbiomes. Especially on genetic twins, identical where there is one twin that’s obese and the other twin that’s lean. They’ve done a significant amount of studies on those types of twins to see that the only difference between the two is the types of bacteria that have in their gut. Ones have the type of bacteria that makes them more obese, the other one makes them more lean.
So at the end of the day, the idea is that everyone’s microbiome is different. And so how do we know what type of probiotic to use that is right for you or right for me? What am I missing in my microbiome that’s causing me to have these issues? What are you missing that’s causing you to have issues, or what do you have that’s causing you to have all these benefits, right? But those things, we can’t know. We don’t have the technology to know that right now.
And so when you look at the decades worth of microbiome research, there really are a couple of themes that come out that are uniform across most studies, and that is that diversity in the microbiome is really important. Your diversity might look differently than my diversity, but nonetheless, there’s a measure of diversity for both of us within the microbiome. And the way you measure diversity is the richness of the microbiome, meaning how many different types of organisms.
The second part is the uniformity of those organisms. How uniform are they? Because you can have a lot of different organisms, but four or five of them are predominant — they are the main growers. And so the other ones at such low levels are not really adding to the foray. And then the richness in the diversity — now the second part is the presence of certain Keystone strains. These are really important strains that most of us have in our microbiome that are baseline strains that are protective to the host, like Akkermansia and Faecalibacterium, Bifido longum, these are really important Keystone strains.
So if we all have high diversity and high keystone strains, we typically have a healthy microbiome — now the old idea of probiotics, the products that have a whole bunch of Lacto and Bifido strains in them in a capsule or a yogurt, they don’t affect the diversity and they don’t affect the keystone strains. In fact, most of them die through the stomach. Those strains aren’t designed to survive through the gastric system. So what we were looking at for probiotics is: How did our ancestors maintain high diversity, how did they maintain high keystone — of course, they didn’t have all of the stuff that kills bacteria, but we figure that there were microbes in the environment that they came in contact with that helped orchestrate this balance within the microbiome.
Someone is in there with the checks and balances so that one microbe just doesn’t take over and start to proliferate. And so as we dug into it more, we found that there are certain types of environmental bacteria that humans have been exposed to for long periods of time, for millions of years, over the course of human evolution, but we stopped getting exposure to them over the last 30-40 years because we live in concrete, sterile environments. We’re no longer in the environment like we evolved to be. So that’s what we focused on in probiotics, it’s these Bacillus endospores that are outside in the natural environment, they’re also a natural part of your gut bacteria, and their whole job is to come in and orchestrate that balance.
We just submitted a paper for publication that shows that in as low as 3 weeks, adding in these spores can almost double the diversity of your microbiome, which is mind-boggling, nothing has been shown to be able to do that! Imagine a couple of strains can go in and increase the diversity of your microbiome by 600-700 other species. Then the question is: Where do these species come from?
Well, they were always there but their numbers were so low that we couldn’t even detect them. These strains come in, they suppress the overgrown strains and they produce compounds and nutrients to regrow the strains that are really suffering. Now the other thing we also saw as a significant increase in those protective keystone strains. The Akkermansia and the Faecalibacterium — we’re seeing a ten to a hundredfold increase in those particular strains. And when you have all of that type of modulation going on in the microbiome, you start to resolve the baseline defect that most people have in the western world because of the toxicity we live in.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Such powerful stuff and such a really amazing way of looking at it. When we think about using just the regular probiotics, which as you noted — some people do have improvements with those and some people don’t, and it’s sort of like — I think about what you’re talking about here as really a bandaid vs. a root-level approach to rebalancing the microbiome. Typical probiotics we’re putting them in and hoping that by just continuing to put bigger numbers than a few strains in, it will help — which may, for some people, but what you’re talking about with the spore-based approach is really reconstructing the environment in the gut, like creating this environment where the good bacteria can thrive, or the balance, the ecology of it can come back to where it needs to be. It’s really a very different approach or way of thinking about treating the gut microbiome issues.
Yeah, and you know it was really… when we looked at it, we really took a simplistic approach to it. I always joked that we are just smart enough to understand that nature has already done all the work for us. We just have to be smart enough to look for it in nature. So a lot of the probiotics in the market today are trying to reen with the wheel, so, the Lacto and Bifido strains that are used in probiotics — the whole idea of them was to try to mimic the initial seeding process that occurred when we were first born, but we can’t be reborn that way.
You can’t reseed the gut that way. And so when we looked at it, we said okay — where did our ancestors get their probiotics? They didn’t have these special refrigerated products in a store, and they didn’t put stuff in special capsules and all that stuff. They got it from the environment. Our ancestors for the vast majority of human existence ate dirt, and they accidentally ate dirt, but they didn’t sterilize the environment, and as it turns out, there are some organisms in the environment that play this really important policing role in our microbiome.
And here’s what’s really interesting about it: We can’t do that for ourselves. We can not police our own microbiome. It’s a completely separate entity that is on its own. We don’t have a system in place in our own body to go “This bacteria is too high, let’s bring it down. This one’s too low, let’s bring it up.” We don’t have a mechanism in our body to seal up our leakiness in our gut. We don’t have a mechanism in our body to regrow those really important keystone strains. We have outsourced all of those organisms that we are supposed to encounter in the environment — because again, we are a walking, talking rainforest. We are in constant osmosis with the outside world, and we’re supposed to be that way.
So it was a different approach, and what we were looking at is exactly as you said, it’s a fundamental restructuring of the microbiome. That’s the only way you’re going to get real sustainable results. Because even for some of those few people that get benefits from some of those products in the market, the problem is the moment you stop taking those products, the benefits go away, you know? And you don’t really have any big global changes and our whole goal was how do we make those big global changes so that you’re not only affecting the behavior but then you’re affecting the allergies in some positive way, you’re affecting the food sensitivities, you’re improving the digestion, the growth levels — all of that stuff improves when you just start fixing those fundamental issues in the gut.
I’ll tell you, what you mentioned as part of my bio, we’re doing a lot of studies, we’re up to 13 clinical trials now. We finished a study recently on triglycerides, on reducing elevated triglycerides using probiotics, we finished a study in dermatology on reducing acne lesions on using an oral probiotic and reducing wrinkle appearance, reducing inflammatory markers the skin, we’re doing a gingivitis study on reducing gingivitis in the gums, we finished a study on leaky gut, we’re doing one on rheumatoid arthritis — all these things that are seemingly unconnected: Gingivitis, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, all these things with the same product, right? Why is it that we can do all of those different studies with all of those different conditions with the same product? It’s because we’re fixing the fundamental problem that’s driving most of those things. So that’s what’s really exciting about all the work that’s going on right now — is we’re seeing that you can fundamentally fix the messed up gut environment.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And I think that’s such a powerful thing to think about — most people are used to it, even clinically I would use typical, regular probiotics. Typically I would keep doing that, which is fine if the person is continuing to experience benefit — but at a certain point, you look at okay, how do we need to get to more root level here, how can we make it so that this system is working well and moving in the right direction on its own and we’re not constantly having to put organisms in order to keep it balanced, and so clinically we’ve seen such great results with using this spore-based product.
I wanted to just let people know where they can find out more information about that. I know you have the products that we use in clinical practice, I know you have some that are available for people to go and purchase to try this — where can people find more information on this?
So one of the easiest places where they can go and research and do their own work on it is to come to our website at microbiomelabs.com — on there we sell these particular products only through health practitioners like yourself and those with standard brick and mortar practices. So they can come in and there’s a ‘find a practitioner’ tab, they can put in their zip code and you’ll find practitioners and doctors all in your area that carry the products and you then you can talk to your doctors about getting it. There is a retail version of it as well, which has a lower dose. It’s a great product for maintenance, we use it a lot in kids with behavioral disorders, it’s called Just Thrive Probiotic, both of those are available for access to people.
And on our website, we also have a lot of information on the product and understanding what these strains are, where they come from and so on. And then if they ever want to go and learn a little bit more about some of these connections, if they put my name into YouTube, apparently there are lots and lots of videos that show up. I’ve been fortunate enough to lots of these great interviews and the hosts are always nice about putting them up on there and so there’s a lot of information about how the spores work and so on. It’s important to know that these particular types of probiotics have been in the prescription drug industry since 1952. They’re not new in that sense, so we didn’t invent them.
As we were looking at what type of bacteria would be impactful and made sense from an evolutionary standpoint, we found these bacterial endospores and then we said okay — we’re selling them and then as it turns out, in 2/3rds of the world, they’ve been using them for over 60 years to treat gut infections, upper respiratory tract infections and whole bunch of other stuff — we’ve just haven’t utilized them in the U.S. And so that was our role in bringing them to the U.S. and then doing the clinical research with those. So yeah, it’s really quite exciting to see all of the different impacts that these, that making the fundamental change in the microbiome can have. And at the end of the day, what we want to do is kind of have a global benefit. Once you start fixing that gut, the baseline deficiencies in the gut — you start to see changes in all types of issues. You’re not just looking at the one issue that you’re dealing with, we’re looking and making a global change.
And here’s the important part, you’re also preventing the onset and the progression of other issues that you don’t have yet because these typical dysfunctions in the gut are responsible for the vast majority of chronic illnesses — at least driving them if not being the primary cause of them and so even though right now you’re more focused on certain behavioral issues or maybe some allergies, know that those same dysfunctions down the road could manifest into autoimmune conditions and acne and all kinds other stuff. So it’s important to address this fundamental — the baseline.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Yeah, it’s laying the best foundation to support health and function, not just for right now, but also into the future for ourselves and our kids — that really important foundation. This has been such an important and valuable discussion. I know that it’s got people’s wheels turnings and thinking about what they need to do and want to do to address this, so thank you so much for coming on the show and talking about this. Really, really helpful. Thank you.
It’s my pleasure and I’m always happy to come on, getting this kind of information to people is absolutely imperative to health and wellness and just kind of improving the health of society in general. You know, we’re all kind of going through this together, so thank you so much for the opportunity to talk.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Absolutely. Okay everybody, thanks for being here and we’ll see you for our next episode of The Better Behavior Show.