About Dr. Raphael Kellman
Dr. Kellman is a pioneer in functional medicine who has a holistic and visionary approach to healing. In 17 years of practice, he has treated more than 40,000 patients, many of whom have come to him from all over the world and after suffering without help for years. Dr. Kellman is driven by his desire to alleviate suffering and to help people regain health based on a new vision and understanding of healing and the causes of disease. As a doctor trained in internal medicine Dr. Kellman uses the latest drugs and technology to treat specific diseases but his approach to medicine is patient- centered and holistic. He focuses on the complex interaction of systems — not just the disease but on you as a whole person who is greater than the sum of your parts. Dr. Kellman’s treatments are informed by his background in the philosophy of science, and administered with compassion and kindness. Drawing on the latest research, he addresses your biochemistry, metabolism, hormones, genetics, environment, emotions, and life circumstances to help you achieve optimal health.
The Microbiome Diet Book
01:34 Dr. Kellman’s Gut Bacteria Journey: Holistic/integrative/functional medicine physicians, like Dr. Kellman, are focused upon getting the body to heal itself. They use natural substances to improve function and detoxify. His believes that the microbiome is our best ally to activate the body’s ability to heal beyond what can be done using supplements or holistic therapy. Bacteria in the gut co-evolved with us. We are really part of one ecosystem. Changes that the microbiome makes are synergistic. Dr. Kellman is a medical doctor who trained as an internist. Having been a student of philosophy of science, he realized that modern medicine was not recognizing the science of medicine in the way our bodies heal and function as a system. He had also studied environmental medicine, how the outer ecology impacts the inner ecology (us).
05:35 Bacteria are Our Ally Not Our Foe: For the past 150 years, medicine viewed bacteria as foes needing extermination. However, at least 80% of the bacteria within us are important to our survival. He wrote a book years ago called Gut Reactions: A Radical New 4-Step Program for Treating Chronic Stomach Distress and Unlocking the Secret to Total Body Wellness. Now he has the book, The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss.
08:04 How Did We Miss the Gut Microbiome? We did not know about the microbiome. We did not know that we were populated by more bacteria than our own cells, outnumbering us 10 to 1. With the discovery of the microbiome changes our understanding of how the body functions, why and how the body gets sick and how we can heal. We must re-evaluate everything we thought we knew.
11:27 The Microbiome Plays a Critical Role: They are the trillions of bacteria that reside in our GI tract. They are mostly health promoting. They support, balance and modulate the immune system. They improve GI function. They support the development of the brain and brain function. They are gatekeepers to the flow of nutrients and information throughout the body. They have intelligence. Changes in the microbiome provide us with the opportunity to improve health and overcome disease. Our body’s microbiome provides us with vitamins, antibiotics, nutrients and immune modulators.
14:27 Balance with Parasites, Yeast, and Viruses: Yeast is a common overgrowth. It should not be completely eradicated because it plays a role in our microbiome. Balance is the goal. We don’t know what truly belongs in a healthy microbiome. Parasites can have adverse effects on our health. However, we should not completely eradicate parasites. Many parasites exist within us, but technology has not been able to detect them yet.
17:15 The Benefits of Bacterial Diversity: Not only is diversity of the microbiome important, but so is the terrain of the GI tract. Diversity of your probiotics is more important than amounts. A healthy terrain supports a healthy microbiome.
18:42 Things We Can Do to Improve Bacterial Diversity: Remove unhealthy foods, not just refined carbohydrates, but remove toxins and GMOs. Another way to look at the microbiome is as an interaction or dance of DNA to create an ecosystem. The term microbiota refers to DNA. Don’t play around with the DNA. If you are eating quality food, you will eat less because you are receiving better nutrition and thus organic quality foods are not more expensive. Start with prebiotic foods that contain inulin, arabinogalactans, and non-resistant starch, like jicama, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, leaks, onions, garlic, radishes, and kiwi. Show your love for your microbiome. Try new and different prebiotic foods. Eat fermented foods. There is more than sauerkraut and kimchi, like fermented beets and other vegetables. These are opportunities to create diversity. Dr. Kellman does not wash his organic fruits and vegetables to expose himself to more bacteria, increasing diversity. Expand the types of vegetables you eat. Explore other cultures’ foods. By increasing the diversity of your microbiome, you improve your nutrient intake and, ultimately, nutrient absorption.
26:39 The Power of Psychobiotics: The communication with the microbiome is a bi-directional highway. If we befriend the microbiome, it will befriend us. If we heal the microbiome, it will in turn heal us and improve brain function, memory problems, anxiety, and depression, and improve our neurodegenerative diseases in ways that herbs, supplements and medications cannot.
30:26 Microbiome and Detoxification: Research supports that Parkinson’s is related to pesticides and chemicals. The microbiome plays a role in detoxification and inflammation. Improving the microbiome helps to improve the detoxification, inflammation and glutathione deficiencies associated with Parkinson’s. With inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, the microbiome plays a critical foundational role. By improving the microbiome, treatment efficacy for many conditions improve.
32:18 Positive Effects of a Balance Microbiome: People report that their skin feels and looks better. They report that their brain is clear of brain fog and improved focus, and memory. The microbiome can help during the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
33:40 The Microbiome and Hormones: To reduce stress, eat slowly with heart focus and gratitude. Research shows that just the act of slow chewing improves stress response, lowers cortisol and improves hyper-pituitary-hypothalamus-adrenal stress axis. Chewing gum can reduce stress. When we eat, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Eating slowly helps the microbiome to flourish, by promoting healing and diversity. It improves communication from your microbiome to the brain, improves inflammation within the brain and improves the cast of neurotransmitters that are being produced.
38:65 Alcohol and Microbiome Health: Dr. Kellman is not a fan of alcohol. There are detrimental effects. It requires balance. Occasional wine consumption is healthy in general. There are conflicting studies on daily wine consumption. Too much alcohol, including wine, can increase intestinal permeability.
41:54 Focus on Nurturing the Microbiome: It is more important to support gut health than on multi-vitamins, calcium, vitamin C and the like. If you don’t have a healthy gut and healthy microbiome, you are wasting your money. When Dr. Kellman runs a vitamin panel, he often finds that people taking vitamins and minerals are still deficient. It is not what you take. It is what your gut microbiome is allowing your gut to absorb.
Mike Mutzel: Welcome back, everyone. I am simply thrilled for today’s guest, Dr. Raphael Kellman, integrative physician, functional medicine pioneer, and the author of the new book, “The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss.” We’re going to talk about the details of that book shortly. I want to give you a little bit background about Dr. Kellman and his medical credentials. He attended medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and then attended his residency at Beth Israel Hospital and became board-certified in internal medicine, and in his 17-year career as a functional medicine physician, he’s treated over 40,000 patients, and has opened the thriving Kellman Center in New York City. So Dr. Kellman, welcome.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Thank you. A pleasure to be here.
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, I’m very excited for the show. It’s pretty uncommon for an integrative practitioner to be so fired up about the gut microbiome, and you even wrote a book on it. So, if you don’t mind, let’s share with our audience your background and how you stumbled upon this forgotten organ and eventually wrote the book on it.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Sure. I just want to say that one of the main reasons why I, as a holistic/functional/integrative doctor, is so focused and interested in the microbiome is because doctors like myself are very focused on how to activate the body to heal. So, when looking for ways so that the body can heal itself, so will improve function with natural compounds, some of which are found in the cells, will use different herbs, will try to detoxify various chemicals and maybe impeding normal cellular function, etc. But the reason why I’m so fascinated and focused on the microbiome is that if we feel we improved the microbiome, it could be – it will be our best ally to activate natural healing, to activate the body’s ability to heal. If anyone who’s interested in functional medicine, is interested in activating that natural healing of the body, then we have to be interested in the microbiome because the microbiome is our right-hand man; it is the system that can, that has the knowledge and the power to really activate healing in ways that go much beyond what we can do ourselves just by using supplements or other types of holistic therapies, because the microbiome could activate healing in many, many ways. It can do it in ways that are beyond our knowledge. Remember the bacteria in the gut co-evolve with us whether that us is because we’re really part of one ecosystem – one system, one ecology. So, it knows what buttons to press and exactly how to make big changes and can do it synergistically. Wjen the microbiome activates healing, you can see quantum leaps in healing. So, that’s the main reason why I am – the very practical reasons why I am so focused on on the microbiome. That’s a little bit of a background. To answer your original question, even though I trained in internal medicine and I’m a medical doctor, got my residency in internal medicine, even before that I, in university, I studied philisophy and specifically philosophy of science. So, from the get-go, I realized that modern medicine is really not up to speed due to the paradigm, the way doctors were viewing the science of medicine and viewing how the body heals. So, other scientists were looking at nature in the world and other participants of science have a very holistic perspective – the systems theory perspective. The practice of them was outdated. It was really looking at the body from the very mechanical mechanistic perspective, which was really outdated. So, from the get-go, I started the same things from a very holistic perspective; I also focused on environmental medicine, so I was very much interested now in the ecological balances, the outer ecology effects on the inner ecology, meaning us. I was very much interested in the role of bacteria in the macrocosm, the big world, and I started dealing with bacteria as our allies, and in medicine, bacteria, for years, was our foe. In my opinion, the greatest turnaround in medicine in the last 150 years was precisely in this matter that what we used to think were mostly foes, meaning bacteria that they’re our enemy; it could be attacked and killed. We’ve now changed the model 180 degrees, and that we now realized that most of the bacteria reside within, at least 80%, are very, very important allies – allies that we need for our own survival. So, this is the greatest turnaround in the history of medicine. So, I was right there ready for this turnaround, and I was very interested in the role of the bacteria in the gut. I wrote a book and interviews years ago about the gut reactions, and it’s very focused on the mind, the brain in the gut, the neurotransmitters, the neurons in the gut. I was already looking at the gut as the foundation of human health. So, it was a natural corollary to see the positive effect, to work on this, and to realize that the bacteria must be playing a very, very important role. I started working on that – on improving bacteria, improving the terrain or the environment of bacteria to flourish even before the research was beginning to emerge about the microbiome. So, that’s the basic history of how I got to where I am now, then I decided this is the focus; it’s very important to write and to get this information out there.
Mike Mutzel: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. You’ve mentioned so many different things I love to expand upon. If you are to step back outside of medicine and look back at the directory and advances, how do you think we literally forgot, so to speak, about the gut microbiome? Was it just that the technology and the DNA sequencing was not there or was it not profitable? I mean, can you see any gaps that kind of steered us off the path of really exploring this earlier?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Sure. That’s a good question, except I do believe that we never knew it. There are actually two answers. One is that we really did not know about the microbiome; we did not know that we were populated by more bacteria than there are cells in our body. In other words, the bacteria outnumber our cells, 10 to 1. That means we are mostly bacteria. I always tell my patients, “You think you’re looking at me, but you’re really looking at bacteria dressed up in a suit.” It has tremendous implications to the field of medicine and health. It also has philosophical implications, which is another story, and sociological implications, and of course, ecological implications, but my focus to start is to show people that this is something that the microbiome – just huge unseen world that is right under our nose. It’s the science right within us we didn’t know about, we were blind to. And here we feel that we knew so much about the human body, and all of a sudden, with the discovery of the microbiome, everything is turned on instead. Now, we’re at a point that we should be saying we know nothing about the human body because this is changing – it should change and it will change the way we understand how the body functions and why the body gets sick – why we get sick – and how we can possibly heal. I look at this period as a period similar to the 1940s or 30s or actually, the 1920s in physics before Einstein’s discoveries and quantum mechanics. So, this is so – that’s been understood everything about the world – the physical world – and there’s nothing else to really learn. That’s it. The chapter’s closed; the book is finished. We know the entire mechanical physical world, and then quantum theory, quantum mechanics became a new way to seeing things and Einstein’s theories, and then they realized that we know nothing. The world that we felt that we knew we know nothing about. That’s where we stand right now in modern medicine. Truthfully, through the discovery of the microbiome, once we start realizing this implication, then between me and you, one of my main interests is to drive home the implication of what the microbiome means. So, to position for scientists that work in the field of medicine, so we really begin to understand that we have to reevaluate almost everything we felt we knew about the human body and how we heal.
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with that. I guess we better quickly define all the – you tacitly alluded to the bacteria, but what does the microbiome encompass truly? I know we have bacterial DNA, bacterial cells, but if you could explain that to an engineer or some medical professional, how would you define that?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Well, the microbiome are the trillions of bacteria that are mostly healthy. They reside in our gastrointestinal tract, meaning that they’re friendly, they work with our body, they work with our cells and our organs and our systems as one whole, they support the immune system, they balance the immune system, they modulate the immune system, they improve gastrointestinal function, they support and help in the development of the brain and brain function, they play a huge role as gate keepers to the flow of nutrients and formation throughout the body, they have huge intelligence. I mean, intelligence that’s beyond our imagination. It’s the type of intelligence that we’re not used to, but I really believe that the microbiome knows “exactly” what it needs to do, so that it loads information that we, of course, don’t see that’s found in food and it loads information from the gastrointestinal tract to the rest of the body. In that important role, the microbiome plays a very, very critical role. So, the microbiome – these trillions of bacteria that reside in our gut; they outnumber us 10 to 1. The amount of genes that are found in the microbiome outnumbers us perhaps 150 to 1. They’re constantly replicating and potentially changing that gives us tremendous ability to improve health and overcome disease. Again, they play an intricate role on virtually every system of the body. I call the microbiome the most impressive vitamin shop that you could imagine, and all the vitamins are for free.
Mike Mutzel: Wow.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: They give us all the vitamins and the nutrients we need. They produce an incredible array of nutrients, vitamins, antibiotics, and new modulators, and various peptides that are not even found in the vitamin shops out there. So, we have the most incredible amazing vitamin shop right within, and it’s for free.
Mike Mutzel: I love it. Perfect. I don’t want to go offtrack too much, but since we’re on this definition of the microbiome and so much focus on bacteria, we know that bacteria are not the only microorganism found in our intestines. I know you talked about this in your book, too, Dr. Kellman, but virus and parasites and yeast, do you want to dive into that at any level or should we wait to the end?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: I’ll tell you really briefly. You know, in general, yeast is an overgrowth that should not exist to the extent that we’re seeing it. That doesn’t mean you should completely eradicate all yeast. I also believe that sometimes, when you try to eradicate yeast too extensively, that can actually cause detrimental effects. There is a role to even these bacteria, fungi, parasites that we like to believe should be completely eradicated because really, it’s about balance, and it’s about balance with our immune system. That creates total health, not the complete eradication of anything even yeasts. This is something that I think even holistic functional medicine practitioners are not getting, that the goal is not to completely eradicate these organisms that we think don’t belong. We don’t really know what truly belong to the healthy microbiome, and a healthy microbiome is a very, very subjective definition. It really depends on the host that we’re talking about. It’s a little bit even eccentric to say the host. “Who’s the host?” Also, the bacteria. But okay, forgive me for that. So, there’s no universal rule of what is a healthy microbiome. It has to be evaluated in conjunction with the host that you didn’t know you’re talking about. The same thing with parasites – while it’s true that parasites can have a very, very adverse effect on our health, parasites are not just found in India and Africa, although we would talk that it’s mostly found in other countries. They’re found here, too, because we don’t have a technology that’s good enough to pick it up to properly reveal what’s really going on in terms of parasites. However, that being said, that doesn’t mean that all parasites are not good for us; that doesn’t mean that we should completely eradicate parasites and go on a mission of completely eradicating parasites for the rest of our life. It’s about balance, and each patient/person has to be taken into account. Their biochemical, their hormonal, and their ecological individuality play a critical role when you decide how you should improve and modulate their microbiome.
Mike Mutzel: I really like what you said right there because that way people are not getting hung up on. “Oh, my gosh. I need this specific strain of bacteria.” OR “Oh, this is imbalance.” In your book, you referred to bacterial diversity, and higher bacterial diversity is key. Is that right?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Absolutely. One of the most important points in the book is it’s about diversity. People tell me, “Oh, I’m taking a probiotic that has 500 billion units. They’re relevant to me.” You know, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is the diversity, and even more important is the terrain itself, the microbiome itself, the gastrointestinal system. Is it the proper environment so that a healthy microbiome can naturally develop? That’s what’s important, not the transient probiotics that you’re dumping into your body. What’s really important is the diversity of the probiotics, and secondly, what you’re doing to improve the terrain so that a healthy microbiome can indigenously and spontaneously emerge.
Mike Mutzel: Perfect. Let’s talk about specific ways. You mentioned in the book the we can increase bacterial diversity and rebuild that terrain, and starting with getting rid of the calorie counting – low-carb versus low-fat, high-fat – I love how you say, “Forget all that. Don’t count these things. Focus on creating a really diverse and robust microbiome.” So, as a healthcare practitioner, you have a lot of recipes and things. But what have you found clinically to be the most effective in terms of really getting people’s microbiome into that healthy, more diverse state?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Well, first of all, you want to remove certain unhealthy foods; that’s quite clear. It’s not limited just to refined processed carbohydrates. I’m also interested in removing toxins found in food. I’m interested in removing genetically modified foods because it’s about the interaction. You can look at all of these as an interaction of DNA – a dance of DNA – and how are these different DNAs are going to create one whole ecosystem. The truth is, the term “microbiota,” refers to DNA. So really, what is the grand dance of the DNA in our gastrointestinal tract? If humans are taught throwing in foods that are genetically modified, and the DNA that are found in these foods are modified. It throws a monkey wrench into this ecology of DNA, and that’s the problem. I don’t even care if the research yet supports this idea. I believe it. I think that we should learn from our mistakes in the past that the more you mess around with nature, the more it’s going to ricochet back to hurt us. We should learn from history, learn from our mistakes, and don’t play around with the DNA. It’s going to affect the microbiome. One day, the studies will prove that. There are some; I mentioned a few in the book, and that’s enough to make us worry. It makes me worry about it, the least. So, I tell people: Stay away from genetically modified foods. Stay away from chemicals and pesticides. Eat less. You don’t have to spend more by eating organic; just don’t eat as much of the garbage foods. Eat less. You don’t need to all of it that much, as long as the microbiome is healthy, we’re going to be absorbing nutrients galore. So, remove the unhealthy foods, and then you want to really start by the basic foods that provide prebiotics like inulin, arabinogalactans, resistant starch, and some of these foods can be found in jicamas, asparagus, from artichokes, leeks, onions, garlic, radishes, kiwi. When I eat a kiwi, I see the arabinogalactans – the prebiotic in them; I can almost feel my microbiome happy because they’re getting the foods; they’re like my friends, they’re hugging me. Wow, you’re taking care just like your pet – like your dog. Doesn’t a dog love you when you give him good food. I feel it; I know it sounds a little strange, but that is the goal. We are the king and the queen of this ecology. We’re the ones responsible for taking good care of this grand ecology dude. To me, that’s the most important point in holistic medicine. That’s who we are; that’s our responsibility; that’s our job. So, feed this ecology what they need, and you’ll see positive returns really quickly. So, feed the microbiome these types of food, and then whenever you can get your hands on a novel food that contains these prebiotics, run to it. Don’t worry, not too many people are competing with you for it, unfortunately yet. Those are the foods that you want. And even though they may look strange to you now and you say, “I’m not going to enjoy you,” you’ll see, one day, you’re going to enjoy it. People are saying, “Jicama? C’mon. What is jicama? It doesn’t taste like anything.” And then when they start eating it, they realize, “Oh, my God. This is an amazing food.” “It even tastes sweet,” some people tell me. “Yes, it does. It has inulin in there, and has a little bit of sweetness to it.” First, start with the basics, then look for the foods that are a bit different – that provide inulin and provide the arabinogalactans, resistant starch, and look for different types of fermented foods. Nowadays, it’s not just salad and kimchi, you can find fermented beets, you can find other vegetables that are fermented. So, we have more opportunities now to create diversity. In my opinion, I personally don’t wash my organic foods and vegetables. Now, why? Why don’t I do that? It’s because I’m looking to create diversity; I want to be exposed to more bacteria obviously in an intelligent way. I’m not going to hang out with a bolo patient. There’s a balance, but I don’t wash organic vegetables and fruits. I’m sure some will disagree with that. I know that it could be their problem, but the exposure to bacteria, to me, is so important because I feel more confident that I’m creating a microbiome that’s really diverse, and that will likely flourish.
Mike Mutzel: Perfect. For individuals that are may be new to this, is it fair to say just eat real diverse diet and that will in turn create a more diverse bacteria and a healthy microbiome in your body?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: It depends what you mean by “diverse diet.” If it’s pizza one day and baked mac the next day, no, that’s not the deal. The diversity in terms of the types of vegetables – absolutely – like if today, you try to look for different types of stores. Expand your repertoire. If there’s another neighborhood that has different types of vegetables that other cultures are interested, well, go there once in a while. Be more interested in diversity especially when it comes to foods and vegetables and less focus on grains. But you know, even grains, they do provide some of the prebiotics that help create a diverse microbiome. But people can first start – considering some grains are not good for the people – some people are gluten-free, but quinoa and certain legumes are certainly very healthy for the microbiome. So, be diverse with the fruits and vegetables that you’re choosing.
Mike Mutzel: Thanks for clarifying. I was referring more to plant-based – colors and…
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Yeah, I know that. Of course, I know. Yes, diversify the fruits and vegetables. It’s something that you’ve never tasted before. Let’s say that you see, “Oh, here’s a fruit from Mexico,” a guava, for example. Get it, because now, you’re likely to improve the diversity of your microbiome, improve the nutrient intake, and ultimately, nutrient absorption.
Mike Mutzel: You hit on something else that I want to expand to. When you talked about just being grateful, and when you’re eating food, just know and think positively that that food will increase the health of your gut microbiome. That’s one side of the so-called gut-brain axis, but we also know there is communication going from the gut microbes to the brain. So, do you want to talk about that and explore more about the psychobiotics?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Absolutely. That’s a great point. It’s a bi-directional highway. The communication is occurring in both directions. If we befriend the microbiome, it would befriend us. If we heal the microbiome, it would in turn heal us. It will in turn improve brain function. I can’t tell you how many patients I’ve seen, who were depressed and anxious, had memory issues, dyscognition – you name it – all kinds of issues; many of which don’t even have a diagnosis. And also neurodegenerative diseases, and also even early Alzheimer’s – I can’t tell you how many of these patients have seen significant improvement beyond anything else that they’ve used by improving the microbiome, by improving gastrointestinal health and function. And, the research is there already; this is not make-believe with faith. There’s research now to support the notion that by improving the microbiome, you can improve anxiety disorders and even depression. There are some specific microbes that may have a particular effect, but in general, a healthy microbiome will improve brain function in ways that we can’t do. Let’s say I have 10 different types of herbs and supplements that I may use to help someone with anxiety, depression and memory issues. Now, sometimes, if you use them in a certain combination, you may create synergy and then you’ll see a greater effect that was a whole that is more than the sum of its parts in the treatments that you’re using. When you activate and improve the microbiome by following my prescription that I have in the Microbiome Diet, you’ll see that the microbiome improves the brain beyond the 10 nutrients that you know of or the 10 herbs that you know of that may help the brain, or 10 medications or 10 treatments. It will improve it in ways where you’ll see this, again, this quantum leap and a quantum healing effect, where you’ll really see how the whole is more than the sum of its parts because the microbiome knows exactly how to improve brain function in a myriad of ways, some of which we now know. Some of those mechanisms of how an improved microbiome can ultimately improve brain function. But there are many mechanisms that we don’t know about. We don’t know exactly what it’s doing to the genes, how it’s changing kinetic expression and the full effects that it’s having on the immune system, and various neurotransmitter that are now flowing in the brain. We know very little of this, but what we do know is that we certainly are beginning to see a little bit of this. We’re getting to a first few, but clinically, we’re seeing incredible results and I think, if anyone does yet appreciate how the body works in terms of, as I mentioned before, in terms of as the systems interact together to produce – or components, I’d say, work together to produce the whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Watch what happens when you heal the microbiome. You’ll see this principle come to life.
Mike Mutzel: Great. So, depression – you mentioned neurodegenerative problems, maybe memory problems. What about Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: I’ll tell you something about Parkinson’s. My feeling about Parkinson’s is that it’s very much related to insecticides and pesticides and chemicals.There’s research to support that. The microbiome plays a big role because it does help in detoxification. The bacteria, that I’m encouraging people to befriend, would be much happier when you befriend the microbiome. They also play a role in detoxification, which is so critical for good treatments – proper treatments for Parkinson’s. There’s also inflammation in Parkinson’s and glutathione deficiencies, etc., and improving the microbiome absolutely helps to improve all of these issues. So, I combine the microbiome nutrition to Parkinson’s with the microbiome diet. Other treatments like intravenous glutathione, etc. and detoxification, and again, here is the combination of therapies that produces great synergy. With other disorders – inflammatory disorders, autoimmune disorders – the microbiome plays a critical role – foundational role – from memory issues, absolutely, especially in middle-aged, younger people, we really don’t fully understand why are their memories are not as potent as it was years ago. And then usually, not so responsive to some of the herbs that we may use in older people. Improving the microbiome will be the clarity the people report to me. This is one of the first effects that people see. The one is skin clarity – the way their skin looks and feels; but also brain clarity, which is an early positive effect of the microbiome diet, including brain fog, focus, concentration, memory. So, the microbiome diet absolutely helps with those conditions. Of course, with Alzheimer’s, it’s very, very complex; the treatments that work to Alzheimer’s work best for early Alzheimer’s. That’s why it’s very important to make these types of diagnoses early and implement, as one of the therapies, the microbiome diet. I do believe that a dysfunctional gut – the dysfunctional microbiome are the antecedents for various diseases of the central nervous system like Alzheimer’s disease.
Mike Mutzel: I love it. You talked about the immune system and autoimmunity, the brain, neurotransmission, but in your gut, you also talked about the hormonal system and the stress response system and how stress can make you fat and change your gut ecology. We know some of you may be stressed out. Do you want to give any tips or strategies to help to improve gut health via modulating the stress response?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Absolutely. You don’t have to go and meditate and do yoga or go on a retreat that you can’t afford only to reduce stress. All you have to do is eat slowly. When you eat – with concentration and focus. I always tell people, “Invite your heart into the meal. Invite your brain, your mind into your meal. Invite others to your meal.” Only if they’re going to eat in a way that is healthy, and then slowly, without stress, with focus and concentration – not only mental concentration, but heart concentration – and the emotions that come from attention and heart concentration. Chew slowly. There’s research to show that just the act of slow chewing significantly improves the stress response – lowers cortisol, improves hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis that’s the stress access from the brain all the way down to the adrenal glands. The first treatment that I offer is just focus and eat slowly and chew because research shows just the active chewing, even chewing gum, can significantly improve stress and feeling of anxiety and stress, and it makes sense. Remember that when you’re eating, you’re activating the parasympathetic nervous system. That’s the system that will improve our stress response, that will bring down that overstimulated sympathetic nervous system, and that’s associated with stress, anxiety, and feeling lousy. So, instead of eating on the run and talking about issues that make you stressed, all of which override the parasympathetic activation while you’re eating. So instead of taking an opportunity to really reduce stress, people override it by the way they’re eating. So, take advantage and appreciate the fact that your parasympathetic nervous system is getting activated while you eat especially if you eat slowly, and again, you invite the mind and the heart into your meal. You’re going to really have the opportunity to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. People spend a lot of money to go to different therapies to help them with stress and activating the parasympathetic system. You don’t have to do any of these; you can do it on your own in your own living room, in your own dining room, or in your own kitchen, someone else’s kitchen with a friend. That should be the starting point; it has tremendous power, tremendous effects I’ve seen with my patients, and then I see the results. I say, “Wow. I’m jealous. I want to do more of that myself.” I see phenomenal results with just a simple strategy, and when you’re activating the parasympathetic nervous system and you don’t shut it down, then the whole process of digestion improves the microbiome. Our friends appreciate it and that helps the microbiome to flourish; it helps to activate their healing; it promotes diversity, etc. So, absolutely, eat slowly, eat with heart and intention, and it will improve your microbiome. It will then improve the parasympathetic nervous system. It will improve the flow of communication to the brain, and that will also reduce the immunological message to the brain, which will change the neurotransmitter profile, what types of brain chemicals you’re producing; it will reduce inflammation in the brain, and within a short period of time, you’re a much healthier person, you’re less anxious, you’re happier.
Mike Mutzel: Right. And like you said, it’s free. Just be more mindful and grateful when you’re eating. You don’t need to go buy some. I think people are looking for these big-dollar solutions: “I need to lose weight. I’m going to go invest in this program.” But everything you’ve mentioned, Dr. Kellman, that’s why I love your approach, is free and very inexpensive – garlic, jicama, some artichoke – these are not some major expensive things. Back to the stress response, I think a lot of people in our society and throughout the world tend to increase their parasympathetic tone or turn down the knob on this sympathetic tone through alcohol and other substances. So, what effects does alcohol have on the gut and is it taboo? Where do you stand on that?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: To answer that question, I’m not a fan of alcohol. I think, overall, it has an adverse effect. But there’s a positive effect if someone is a little happier from it, if it gladdens your heart. By all means, that’s so important to the health of the microbiome, too. But remember, there’s a balance. There’s a point where you start to exceed that limit, and now all of a sudden, the detrimental effects far outweigh the positive effects, and it’s different for each person, so I don’t like it in general recommendation there. I do believe wine is, in general, healthy. I think the research supports that. It doesn’t mean you need to drink three glasses of wine, and I think if someone wants to drink a glass a day or every other day is probably a health-promoting habit.
Mike Mutzel: I asked because there is some research showing that chronic wine drinkers, and this is not alcoholics, but individuals that have one or two glasses of wine a day, have lower levels of endotoxin in their gut and higher levels of bifidobacterium, but then of course, other studies say that while it increases gut permeability, we know that’s not good. So, I wanted to see where you stand.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: That’s why I’m kind of on defense on that because remember that one study may show something positive, but then not looking at something else that may be negative. So, it’s true that they may increase bifidobacterium, but that’s only looking at one slice, right? You’re not getting a geometric perspective and you’re not getting a very holistic view of what’s really happening in the overall microbiome and gut ecology and gut health. So, that’s why. Because those studies have not taken such a broad view, I won’t take them that seriously. However, because too much alcohol, depending on the individual, can cause (and this includes wine) – can increase intestinal permeability, the decision has to be made on very individualistic basis. If someone already has gut permeability issues, I’m not going to tell them about the positive effects of wine – drinking wine on a daily basis.
Mike Mutzel: Right.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: That’s why it’s very typical to write books like this because you try to make a general prescription to the masses, and medicine needs to be personalized at the same time.
Mike Mutzel: So, as we wrap this up, we’re going to refer everyone to the show notes and a link to your book on Amazon, but any strategies that we didn’t touch on that you want to highlight for creating the microbiome of a thin person and really optimizing whole body health? We talked about being grateful, eating mindfully, chewing, all the fermented foods, and herbs and spices, but any other tips or strategies that you found clinically to be very effective?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: That’s another good question. I think it’s more important, in my opinion, to spend your money on nutrient supplements that improve the gut and the microbiome than in spending your money on a multivitamin or spending your money on calcium and vitamin C. In the end, if you don’t have a healthy gut and a healthy microbiome, you’re just about wasting your time and you’re wasting your money. It probably won’t have a positive effect on your overall health. There’s some research to support what I’m saying that the evaluation of people taking multivitamins – the few studies that exist, they’re controversial. You certainly can’t prove that taking a multivitamin is going to improve one’s health that is going to increase your life expectancy, yet most people believe it to be the case. My feeling is forget the multivitamin. Don’t spend your money on them. Don’t even spend your money on vitamin C or calcium. First, spend your money on your gut and your microbiome. And then if you have any leftover cash, then you could start taking these other vitamins. I’ve had patients who were taking multivitamins and B vitamins, and when they first came to see me, I do a vitamin profile and antioxidant profile, and you’ll see, for example, low B vitamins, they’ll be shocked. “It doesn’t make sense. How could that be, Doctor? I take a multi and B vitamins. I have low zinc and I’m taking zinc in my multi. What’s happening?” I tell them, it’s not what you’re taking in, it’s not what you’re ingesting; it’s what your microbiome is enabling your gut to absorb, to assimilate, to digest and to absorb. That’s what’s critical, and these same patients, I tell them, “Get off of all these things. Let’s just focus on the microbiome.” And then when you repeat blood tests for these people, now they see their B vitamins could be robust – at the robust level – and they’re fascinated. “How is that possible? I’m not even taking B vitamins. Where is it coming from? I’m not even taking a multivitamin, why is my zinc now 110, and it was 65 when I was taking a multivitamin?” Now, they are amazed. They say, “All those years, I was spending my money on these multivitamins that didn’t do a thing.” And then they see firsthand that it’s about the microbiome, it’s about gut health, and then I remind them, when they get the message, that the microbiome is your closest GNC, your closest vitamin shop; it’s right here in your gut. It will produce as many of these vitamins for you, and it will help your gut to absorb the nutrients that we so desperately need to maintain and promote our health, and healing the microbiome is the best way to absorb a multivitamin without even having to pay for it.
Mike Mutzel: Well-said. I like it, Dr. Kellman. I can talk to you all day about this stuff.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Yes, it’s beautiful. You’ve asked the greatest questions, and this has really been a wonderful interview.
Mike Mutzel: Well, thank you, Dr. Kellman. So, in the show notes, I have your website, which is raphaelkellmanmd.com so any patients that want to follow you. Looks like you have your blog here in the contact forms, so we’ll make sure that people have access to that. We have the link to your book here – your amazing book, “The Microbiome Diet,” which I highly recommend to everyone.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Yeah, I’m going to read your book, too. I’ve been hearing about it, too, and I certainly will read it. I’m so happy that we think in the same direction. It’s wonderful; the more, the better.
Mike Mutzel: Absolutely. “More, the better” is right.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Absolutely. Do you have a transcript for this? Because this is such a wonderful interview. We spoke about so many things.
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, I will send that over to you. I put it on the show notes. I do have a virtual assistant that would transcribe it, so I’ll send you an email and let everyone know that it’s available.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: That’s so great. I’ve had many interviews. This is really the best.
Mike Mutzel: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that.
Dr. Raphael Kellman: So, that’s it. I look forward to staying in touch with you.
Mike Mutzel: Me, as well. Have a great day!
Dr. Raphael Kellman: Me, too.
Mike Mutzel: Thanks so much. Bye.