#121: Russell Jaffe, MD, PhD, CCN – Digestion, Gut Microbiome, Probiotics & Prebiotics

by Mike Mutzel


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New Study: Italian Researchers Report How Gluten Damages Gut

blood levels of zonulin (marker of leaky gut) were almost as high in patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity as in those with coeliac disease

Keep this one on hand next time someone says "gluten-free" diet is a fad. Italian scientists showed that blood levels of…

Posted by Mike Mutzel, MS on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

About Russell Jaffe, MD, PhD, CCN

Russell Jaffe has had the privilege of contributing to the “birth” of modern integrative medicine. He works from first principles of biology to clarify the causal mechanisms of good health and ill health. His over 100 articles and invited reviews attest to his professional contributions.

Connect with Dr. Jaffe

Favorite Nutrient

Vitamin C (L-ascorbate)

Related Books

Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret About How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat


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Show Notes

5:39 Microbiome Wasteland:  For many of us, our microbiomes are a wasteland.  Few of us were breastfed, and even fewer of us were breastfed until we were ready to be weaned and our guts were mature. In areas of the world where children are breastfed until ready to wean, you find the healthiest children with the fewest autoimmune, inflammatory, and allergic-like conditions.

6:48 Dynamic Communion between our Metabolism and our Digestive System:  In the 8,000 of hours of post-graduate education that Dr. Jaffe has had, he guesses that only about 4 hours were spent on digestion and nutrition.  We should forgive doctors, because they just don’t know.  There was no emphasis on how important digestion is for a healthy life, for feeling well, for restorative sleep, for healthy weight, for lower risk, for repair and reducing inflammation.

8:50 Adversary turned Advocate and Educator: In his ignorance, Dr. Jaffe started out trying to debunk orthomolecular, what is now called progressive nutrition.  He set out to debunk mindfulness/meditation and ayurvedic medicine.  When he learned more about them, he became cross-trained in these and Chinese medicine and acupuncture, and taught this to physicians.

9:31 Whole, Natural and Nurture:  We want to be healthy and whole, in harmony with nature around us and within us. We want to nurture and be nurtured.  Critical to this are the choices we make about what we eat and drink and what we think and do. It impacts quality of life, reducing or increasing risk. To the extent to which we are willing to be interdependent with all life, is the extent to which we are willing to choose life.  Whole, natural and nurture are his guides. He eats foods that he can digest, assimilate and eliminate without immune burden.

12:58 One of The Greatest Myths:  A big lie is that we lose, capacity, endurance, and ability, after our 30s or 40s. Dr. Jaffe recently underwent extensive testing and scanning.  By every marker, he continues to function as a 35 to 40 year old.  We can maintain a high quality of life throughout our lifespan. We do not have to become statistics.

15:15 Antibiotics Lay Waste to our Microbiome.  This is well explained in When Antibiotics Fail: Restoring the Ecology of the Body, a book by Mark Lappe’ and in Michael Schmidt’s work.   You need to work intensively replenishing every day for 3 to 6 months after antibiotic exposure using multiple healthy organisms, fermented food and active supplements. Dr. Jaffe uses the power of billions of live CFU, colony forming units, in human implantable strains. Live bugs work and dead bugs don’t.

16:43 We Can Make Our Own:  We can make our own prebiotic foods with high fiber to feed the good bugs. We can take in enough probiotic organisms to replenish those expended from stress and toxin exposure, and symbiotic foods, nutrients like recycled glutamine, which helps repair the digestive tract.  Prebiotics, probiotics and symbiotics form a triad.

17:33 Renaissance of Proactive Primary Prevention: For the past 3 years, throughout the world  there have been public health initiatives to get more prebiotic high fiber, probiotic organisms, and symbiotics into our diets. The lining of the intestinal tract is one of the most vulnerable places in the body. It replaces itself about every 3 days. A healthy person’s digestive tract, if laid out flat, would be as large as a tennis court.  Most American adults suffer from atrophy of their digestive tract because they have not been nourishing and nurturing it.  This means that they only have a few square feet. The good news is that this can nearly always be rehabilitated.

18:57 The Age Myth:  It is a lie that once we begin to decline with age that it can be slowed and symptoms can be suppressed, but the decline is irreversible and inescapable. The age myth is about the proportion of unhealthy people at certain stages of life.  Dr. Jaffe has tested groups of 90 to 100 year olds and healthy 20 to 30 year olds, drawing their blood, culturing their white cells, culturing muscles and other cells, and the groups are indistinguishable from each other.

20:48 A Detailed Description of Digestion: Digestion begins with your eyes. They tell your gut and your brain, what you will be consuming.  As we chew, small bits of food escape through the mucosa to inform the brain and the gut as to what digestive juices will be needed for this meal.  The stomach churns and produces acid. People with ulcers have low stomach acid and healthy people have lots of stomach acid. Proton pump inhibitors are prescribed all the time. Often, if you believe they will work, they will work just slightly better than placebos.  When you inhibit stomach acid production, you set up a chain of events of maldigestion, often with the sensitization of the immune system.  It is essential that we have an amino acid called histadine that donates the proton, the acid that keeps the stomach acidic so that pepsin, the enzyme that loves to be in that acid environment, begins to open the food particles, especially the proteins and the concentrated foods. The acid in the chyme, which is the stuff that comes out of the stomach and is delivered to the small intestine, triggers a bicarbonate and digestive enzyme release from the pancreas.  Dr. Jaffe does not recommend that people take oral enzyme supplements. He is confident that when you restore stomach acid production with histadine take 30 minutes before a meal, since amino acids have increased potency when taken on an empty stomach, and as part of stomach acid restoration, enzyme supplements are not necessary.  We meet the bicarbonate and digestive enzymes that pour out of the pancreas to neutralize the stomach acid and begin the next phase. At a small duct, bile comes in to emulsify fats, bringing fat soluble vitamins and nutrients into the body. For the next 20 feet, nutrients are taken up selectively. Then it is on to the large intestine, which should not have digestive remnants. By the time we get to the ileocecal valve that separates the small intestine from the large, the food should be broken down to non-immune reactive building blocks that get assimilated. There should be enough fiber to bind toxins and remove them from the body.  These toxins are putrescine, cadaverine, and other polyamines, which can form when digestive transit time is longer than the healthy 12 to 18 hours.

25:17 Digestive Transit Time: Typical Americans have a 72 hour to 144 hour transit time from entrance to exit. If you are, you will want to increase the fiber in your diet, you eat foods that you can digest, assimilate and eliminate without immune burden, if you have some sense of portion control, so we do not overwhelm the body. Only about 1 in 20 Americans, or about 5% of our population, has a healthy transit time of 12 to 18 hours and a healthy digestion.  Maldigestion, dysbiosis, inflammatory atrophy and enteropathy of the digestive mechanisms is at epidemic proportions and has been for many decades.  These digestive disorders are most often the cause of chronic degenerative autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

27:43 Pre-Meal Strategies: Water should be your beverage of choice, drinking 2 quarts per day, plus on glass for every adult beverage, caffeinated or artificially sweetened beverage consumed.  Water includes herbal drinks and fruit spritzers.  Do a hydration test. Pinch the skin on the back of your hand. It should return quickly to flat. If there is a ridge which slowly recedes, you need more water. Eat foods from community-supported agriculture or your home garden.

31:37 Calming Your Brain:  Twenty minutes twice a day of mindfulness relaxation response is enough for most of us, to calm the sympathetic, the adrenaline part of the, nervous system, and enhance the parasympathetic nervous system, the serotonin, the soothing part.   There are tools for this that has been developed over the millennia.

33:20 Re-Enchant Yourself with Everyday Life:  Go out in nature and amble.  Dr. Jaffe’s own children were raised at their home in the woods, being exposed to many of the things that worry parents, but they were able to rally healthy protective immune responses.   Healthy people have healthy response.  Our immune system has to defend us from invaders and repair damage.  If our immune system is preoccupied with defense, repair is deferred.  If this happens long enough, it is called inflammation. We can repair this deficit with antioxidants and buffering minerals as well as stress adaptation.  Many of us are in survival mode, our energetic system is shutting down and we are not able to repair.

38:08 Predictive Biomarkers:  Use predictive biomarkers, like the LRA from ELISA/ACT, like the first morning urine pH, like the high sensitivity C-reactive protein, which is a measure of inflammation, you want the HSCRP, the high sensitivity version. Dr. Jaffe believes that we will find all of the biomarkers better when they are done in a high sensitivity mode by labs that offer less than 5% variance on results. If the results guide therapy, they should be high precision results.

40:20 Finding Our Quiet Centers:  With our short attention spans, 20 minutes, though a short period of time, seems like a long period of time. Around the world, in populations that have a subgroup that are healthy and long-lived, each member makes time for themselves because.  Somewhere in their youth, they decide to live and to live more peacefully.  It is a conscious choice.  When you first try to find your quiet center, hundreds of thoughts of things you must do crowd in. This distracting chatter is within all of us.  When we choose to practice inner peace, our world around us becomes more peaceful. It is called the spreading phenomena. Exercising, working your body and mindfulness is a powerful healing and protective combination.

48:14 Gut Repair: SIBO is the result of the laying waste to the microbiome by antibiotics.  Repair requires 3 to 6 months of progressively enriched prebiotic, probiotic, and symbiotic, like recycled glutamine, which repairs gut surface area.  You need good bugs and fiber to feed them. It is a slow build-up through fermented foods, through easy-to-digest whole foods, through more fruit consumption, and avoiding processed foods.  Nobel Prize winner, Dennis Burkett, was correct about digestion. Dennis found that people in Africa who at 40 to 100 grams of fiber a day, had essentially no irritable bowel, ulcerative colitis, and the like.

50:51 Reversing SIBO: With partially digested food reaching your colon, you will have candida and other fungal growth.  Rather than antifungals, Dr. Jaffe recommends a C-Cleanse with magnesium and choline citrate, based on first morning urine ph. It restores normal transit time and regenerates absorptive, digestive and surface area capacity of the small intestine. Now you can build up fiber.

53:54 Some have Concerns About Broth: Try a biodynamic broth, even a biodynamic vegetable broth. If the animal was unwell, the bone will be unwell.  Biodynamic animals are fed well and inspected for health. There are nutrients in bone broth that can literally save a life.  Commercial bone broth is made from commercial animals and full of things we don’t want.

57:05 Biodynamic Farming: Think of it as super organic.  Certain preparations are applied to plants. Some are applied to the roots to enrich the relationship between the micro-organisms and the roots. Some are sprayed as foliar feeding at different times of the year. Organic is better than commercial, more nutrients and fewer contaminants.  Biodynamic is an order of magnitude denser in nutritional quality and more able to exclude the pathogens and toxins that are all around us.  As our society becomes more stressed and toxic, we need it. Dr. Jaffe sees it as the future of agriculture.

59:32 Parting Advice: We become the result of what we eat and drink, and what we do and think.  Choose well and wisely using nature, nurture and wholeness, so that what you eat and drink, you can digest, assimilate and eliminate without immune burden. Take a little time to laugh, to touch, and to nurture you mindfully.

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  1. Wow! That was a great episode with Dr. Jaffe. I learned so much. I’m new to meditation and hearing what he had to say really inspired me. I knew it was a relaxing thing to do, but wasn’t aware of all the biological benefits that bring about health and healing. Thank you so much!

  2. Hi Mike,

    Woah, love it!!!! This was fantastic and a great guest!
    It was a lot to absorb just listening to it.

    Usually you have a really good transcription of the interview but I think there’s some mistake here. The transcript seems to be different from the video. Can you post the correct one? There was so much great stuff that you guys covered!!


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