The Microbiome Medicine Summit has ended today, but I have downloaded all the talks. Tonight, I listened to Joseph Mercola’s talk, called The Basic Ways to a Healthy Microbiome (this link will download MP3 file). Dr. Joseph Mercola is one of the most popular alternative medicine gurus in the US. His website receives as many visitors as the pages from the National Institute of Health, and his Twitter account has over 200 million followers. He is not an MD, but he is a graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (Source: Wikipedia). From Wikipedia:
Mercola has been criticized by business, regulatory, medical, and scientific communities. A 2006 BusinessWeek editorial stated his marketing practices relied on “slick promotion, clever use of information, and scare tactics.” In 2005, 2006, and 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Mercola and his company to stop making illegal claims regarding his products’ ability to detect, prevent, and treat disease. The medical watchdog site Quackwatch has criticized Mercola for making “unsubstantiated claims [that] clash with those of leading medical and public health organizations and many unsubstantiated recommendations for dietary supplements.”
Here is my transcript of parts from Joseph Mercola (JM)’s talk. It was not until 18 minutes in that the microbiome was mentioned for the first time. Some remarkable statements are highlighted in red, and I have also tossed in some responses and comments from Twitter. Host: Raphael Kellman (RK).
RK. What are the main ways that people can take control of their health?
I’m passionate about health. I’ve summarized health into 5 simple basics.
And interestingly, they work for about every disease. I view these as the essential foundational elements. Whatever disease you have you really need to integrate this into the base program. What are those principles?
1. Access to sun as much as you can. It’s not dangerous like every dermatologist will tell you.
2. Drink clean water. Stop drinking sodas.
3. Eat real food (…) When you eat real food, you avoid a lot of other additives and derivatives that are put in food that can really damage your health. And the timing of your food is absolutely key.
4. Movement – you simply got to move your body on a regular basis.
5. You’re not special. I’m not special. We all need 8 hours of sleep a day. There’s a small subset of people, 1:10,000 people have a genetic problem, and they only need 4 hours a night. But I almost guarantee you: You’re not one of those people. You need 8 hours.
(note EB 3/8/16: these 5 steps are all reasonable – although I would not recommend sitting in the sun for hours every day. These steps all are important to help us stay healthy, but they are not a guaranty to a healthy life, nor will they provide a miracle “for every disease”).
RK. Do these same principles apply to someone who already has a serious disease? Do they need to add something?
No, they all have the same basic principles. Eating real food. By that you’re avoiding sugars, processed foods. There is a loop-hole in the government regulations that allows the food industry to classify many food ingredients as GRAS, Generally Recognized As Safe. By making that classification, they can avoid having to do any human food safety testing, and also do not have to put that on the label. You can look all you want, it won’t be there. If you eat real food you avoid exposure to all those potential toxins.
RK. There are many people with insulin resistance who are eating a very healthy diet, and they’re not overweight, and their insulin resistance or their outright diabetes is due to endocrine disrupters, and the chemicals in the environments. Would you agree with that?
Absolutely. There is no question. What is the solution? If you eat clean food, that’s a big issue. But there all the toxic exposure, the BPA phthalates that are in food containers, or plastic curtains in your shower. You got to limit the exposure to plastics.
But it could be other things, like sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is pervasive. Yes, you can take oral vitamin D. But exposure to the sun is the ultimate and absolute best way to increase your vitamin D.
RK: I’ve been saying this for years! Listen, if the sun is an integral part of nature, and we are part of nature, you don’t have to be a medical doctor to figure out that the two of us need to get together. What happens, when you go to medical school, is that you lose your common sense.
Why is exposure to sun better than swallowing a capsule? There’s different reasons. One of them is there’s different wavelengths, 1500 wavelengths. One of those wavelengths is the infrared wavelength. And we know that infrared exposure actually helps structure water in your body. That’s why infrared sonars are so good for detoxing.
I have structured my life so that I don’t need vitamin D. I have not swallowed a vitamin D pill in over 5 or 6 years. (Note EB: He lives in Florida. You know, where it’s sunny).
But if you’re not able to do that, then you have to swallow and then you have to do a blood test.
RK: Get out in the sun! If you have 15-20 min, roll up your sleeves and sit out in the sun!
Take your shirt off! Don’t be embarrassed. If you’re a woman, of course you have a sports bra on, you know, we don’t wanna get indecent public exposure.
RK: Your passion is to change the Paradigm of Medicine. What do you think is wrong with the current paradigm, and what is the new paradigm that you like to replace it with?
Everything that I mention reflects back to the simple principles of “RAP”, Replicate Ancestral Practice, so ancestral food, ancestral movements. What did our ancestors do hundreds of thousands of generations ago?
Our genes and our metabolism (EB: mumbled here) were not optimized for what happened in the last hundred years. So when you remove yourself from that exposure you’re not going to achieve optimal health.
RK: My niece just got into medical school. So I asked her: Do they teach you in biochemistry or in cell biology that all these compounds like CoQ10 and PQQ and niacinamide, that you could actually use those compounds and improve cellular function, and there is research to support that? None of that is being taught. It’s just to know about these compounds in the cell, and then they get onto Pharmacology, what drugs to use.
Yeah, that’s just dead reality. I’m a big believer in CoQ10 or the reduced version which I think is higher quality becase that’s the actual portion that works, it’s biquinol.
Why? Because it supports mitochondria health. Why are mitochondria important? Mitochondria are derivatives of bacteria, they’re ancient bacteria, and each one of your cells has between a 100 and a 100,000 of these organelles (Note: Wikipedia lists an upper limit of 2000 per cell), and what do they do? They produce you energies. When you eat food, your body metabolically and enzymatically breaks that down to the food’s fuels, like fat and sugar, that eventually find their way to these the mitochondria. The mitochondria take that, combine it with oxygen, along the electron transport chain and create energy, distributed through ATP.
Why is this important? The timing of your food. When you eat fuel, one of the artifacts, the byproducts of this fuel generation is not terribly efficient, because it makes free radicals. It produces excessive electrons, and those few radials, you need some, but in excess they can cause cellular damage, can break up your cell membrane, destroy your DNA, kill your mitochondria prematurely. So what? Here is the key. (mentions a book)
Don’t eat food at least 3 hours before you go to bed. Personally I don’t eat food for 5 to 6 hours. Restricting your calories to about a 6h window is a powerful way to address that insulin resistance that I talked about earlier.
But when you eat before you go to bed you’ve got fuel your body isn’t using. And it backs up, and creates all these excessive electrons and free radicals and damages your health. There is no way that you need fuel when you’re sleeping like that. That’s one of the worst things you can do, is to eat before you go to sleep.
Most of us do not need three meals a day. If you have insulin resistance, restricting your calories to a 6 to 8h window, and especially not eating loooong before you go to sleep, is one of the most powerful interventions, that will actually help eradicate, make almost magically disappear your food (inaudible).
18 min in. The host is gently steering the conversation to the topic of the microbiome.
RK: We’re talking about how the mitochondria actually come from ancient bacteria. We and bacteria have a special relationship that goes back for millions or billions of years, that has been totally overlooked. In fact we have always thought that bacteria are the bad guys, but in the last 10 years there’s been one of the greatest scientific turnarounds in the last 100-150 years, from thinking about bacteria as the bad guy to now changing that conception 180 degrees that bacteria is the ultimate good guy.
Your gut is your second brain. When you eat bad food, the processed foods, the sugars, it goes in there. There’s only so much space in your gut. You can only hold so many bacteria back there. So when you fertilize it with bad material, you get the pathogenic yeast, bacteria, fungi, viruses, bacteriophages, that should not be there. There are pathogenic disease-causing microbes which will negatively influence your health. We’ve known about this for…, I forget the name… there was this Russian researcher about a century ago…
Talk about that bacteria are outnumbering us. And bacteriophages outnumber them. And the amount of genetics.
JM: At least we’re waking up. We’re starting to understand it. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.
RK: Ah! I love it.
(some talk about wise men and the bible).
RK: What is the main health issue where microbiome medicine can really make a difference?
JM: I really believe it has an impact on virtually every single health issue. There is just no question about in my mind. But if you have to target it to a specific group, the answer would be the gut diseases, like colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease and peptic ulcer. But it has an influence on almost every disease. There is no question in my mind.
RK: What would be the first step you would tell people to do to improve the microbiome and to improve their gut?
JM: Easy answer to that. You’ve got to take your foot off the gas pedal.
What does that mean? It means, you cannot feed the pathogenic yeast, bacteria, and fungi, You’ve got to stop eating sugar. You can take hundreds of trillions of beneficial microbes, but if you’re eating sugar, it’s like trying to stop your car with your foot on the gas pedal.
Oats is particularly high in phyatic (?) acids which can bind minerals. I liked oatmeal. When I was growing up that was one of my biggest – life cereals – when I didn’t know any better. Cause I did not come from a healthy family. I mean, I love them, but they were just clueless about nutrition.
Orange juice is OK if freshly squeezed. I literally have 5 or 6 dozen fruit trees and about 3 dozen citrus, mostly tangerine, on my property that I consume regularly. I live in Florida so I can grow citrus.
RK: What would you say is the second most important step to improve the microbiome?
JM Probably to eat real food. As as a subset to that, it’s really important to eat fermented food. If you are going swallow oral vitamin D (…) you have to take vitamin K2. Not K1, but K2. What does K2 do? It actually sucks the calcium out of the lining of the bloodvessels so that you prevent and actually reverse atherosclerosis, and it plugs it back into your bones, where it’s supposed to be. So you get stronger denser bones, so you don’t get osteoporosis, break your hip and die a few months later when you get older.
If you find fermented food and fermented vegetables specifically, you can get clinically significant amounts of vitamin K2 for free. I personally think that fermenting your own vegetables is a wise strategy. It’s not that hard to do. It’s not like you are creating a science experiment, gonna kill yourself and your family.
(Around 30 min in, talking about prebiotics and butyrate enemas).
RK: Let’s talk about the targeted use of probiotics to improve various health conditions. More and more research is focussing on certain probiotics, certain types of bacteria that seem to be helpful with specific diseases. I feel there is a certain role for targeted probiotics.
JM: Most people can just benefit from a shotgut broad approach, to not only improve their gut flora, but improve all their health and decrease these chronic degenerative diseases that we are all exposing and they don’t have to die prematurely from Alzheimers, 50% of the people, have diabetes, 50% it’s so terrible. And they’re related. When you are looking at Alzheimers, it’s Type 3 diabetes.
RK: Explain the connection between the gut and the microbiome and neurological health and how improving the gut and improving the microbiome can – to a great degree – prevent Alzheimers.
JM: Well, there are more connections from your gut to your brain than the other way around. It has enormous amounts of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that are actually produced by your gut.
RK (shouting enthusiastically): By bacterial cells! They’re producing these neurotransmitters!
JM (shouting): That’s where it is! It’s in your gut! Not in your brain! In your gut!
RK (shouting): Gut feelings are real! It’s not poetry!
JM: You just follow Ancestral Practices. Do it right. Don’t follow what your friends and neighbors and relatives are doing, follow what your ancient relatives were doing. Follow their sleep patterns, bacteria, food, clean water, stay away from toxins. And when you do that your health will just improve automatically. There is no science involved. It’s just an automatic reflex.
RK: Will this change the way that doctors understand health and healing?
JM: I hope it will, especially with all the DNA sequencing going on. Science changes relatively slowly. It might take a while, may take another generation. Because there’s these vested interests that are highly conflicted and have enormous influence over powerful federal regulatory agencies that dictate policies, and the media of course. There’s a lot of – huh – negative impacts we have to overcome.
Something even as simple as stopping sugar is still challenged and not widely adopted or accepted by traditional medicine because of these conflicted interests that I referenced earlier. It’s obvious, if you are rational, if you are not biased, and you are non-conflicted, and you’re sincerely seeking the truth, there is no other rational conclusion that you could reach. But unfortunately we have to battle these forces that are pushing us the other way, not of different beliefs, but because it is affecting their pocketbook.
JM: I’ve been doing my website for almost 20 years. I’ve been educating people. We have literally 10 million unique visitors every month. But it’s not just about teaching. We have to play an activist role, to be a leader to erase some of these challenges. And the most classic one is these GMO foods, which we know have contained Roundup, which is actually more pronicious that its main ingredient glyphosate. Glyphosate has been shown to decimate your gut microbes. That’s one of the ways it works, it destroys your gut microbes!
We brought it to the public 4 years ago with the direct ballot initiative in California, which failed, but we increased consciousness about this. Right now, people have no clue that the food they’re buying contains GMOs which is gonna their gut health.
We are also working on getting mercury out of dentistry, fluoride out of the water, educating people about the importance of vaccine safety. And about biosolids, where cities are combining human waste with industrial waste, and sell it as organic fertilizer that you buy at Home Depot or Lowes. (rant continues)
RK: How do you see the future of microbiome research?
A: I’m not sure. It’s not an area that I study real carefully. So I’m sure there will be some improvements. (Quickly moves on into his other passion, i.e., extending life beyond 120 years.)
JM: I’m delighted that you really went above your classmates and your local medical community and outcast probably, for recognizing the truth and applying that and being honest and taking a rational approach. Because it works.