Conversation with Gut Health Expert – Dr. William Davis.

Dr William Davis - Wheat Belly v3

Dr. Davis. Obviously, bestselling author of the Wheat Belly. I’ve known Dr. Davis for a couple years now, and I can honestly say he knows … he’s the expert in gut health. He knows more than anybody that I could ever think of, so it’s a pleasure that we have him on today and we just get to talk about a little bit of gut health and how important it is. So the first question that I would love to start off, for our consumers, right, we know that gut health is important, and you’re starting to hear more about gut health. But in your opinion, what is really the most important thing that consumers need to know about gut health in general?

Dr. Davis:

Tom, you’re exactly right. We’re at an age where it’s become clear that gut health … that is, the composition of the microbiome, the bacteria in particular, that dwell in the human gastrointestinal tract … is a huge factor in health, far more … we used to think, Tom, that bowel flora, the microbes in our gut, were nothing more than something like dandelions in your yard, something you try to kill or get rid of. And you took a course of antibiotics, you had some diarrhea afterwards, and case closed, right? We didn’t think anything more of it. The opposite is proving to be true. The composition of microbes in your GI tract are absolutely critical to just about every aspect of health, from mental health, emotional health, to weight, to blood sugar, to blood pressure, to of course intestinal health, joint health. Virtually every facet of health is somehow influenced, if not outright caused, by the composition of microbes. So it’s a big, big, big thing to talk about.

Tom Bushkie:

Yeah, I think you’re … I mean, you’re spot-on. If I’ve got bad gut health, what are some of the symptoms that I’m going to be experiencing? And what is bad gut health, and what is good gut health?

Dr. Davis:

It could be something as common as gas, excessive gas, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome. It could be something more serious, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. It could be intermittent diarrhea. But it could be something that you would never think has any relationship to the bowel flora in your GI tract. It could be migraine headaches, it could be Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or other forms of thyroid disease.

like seborrhea or acne or rosacea or psoriasis. It could be metabolic disorders, like high blood sugar, high blood pressure. In other words, it’s not one thing. It’s the entire … There’s a very interesting observation that is, when you look for disruptions of bowel flora … you can actually find these things. You can measure them by such things as looking at stool and seeing the microbes in stool … even people who are labeled “normal” … that is, who don’t have any bloating, diarrhea, IBS, ulcerative colitis, et cetera … as much as 30% have substantial disruptions of their bowel flora. In other words, normal is no longer normal.

And Tom, it’s because of all the things that we, as a society, as modern people, are exposed to: antibiotics in your past, perhaps, herbicides and pesticides in food, prescription drugs, even common prescription drugs, like anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and naproxen, statin cholesterol drugs, antidepressants. All these drugs, common drugs, disrupt the composition of the bowel flora. And then that, in turn, can lead to numerous downstream health conditions.

Tom Bushkie:

And there’s tens of millions of people that are taking all these medications every single day.

Dr. Davis:

Exactly right, Tom. This is not a rare thing. This is a very common … in fact, I would say virtually 100% of Americans have substantially disrupted bowel flora. About a third have serious disruptions of bowel flora that are going to lead, long-term, if unaddressed, to such conditions as diverticular disease, colon cancer, being overweight, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and all those other health conditions that seem like they have nothing to do with bowel flora. There was a very, very important discovery made in 2007 by [inaudible 00:05:23] group, and that is … so when we think of bowel flora, the microbes that live in our GI tract, we think of them as being in the colon, the large bowel. But it’s become clear that’s no longer true in modern people. In many modern people, these microbes have ascended into the ileum, jejunum, duodenum stomach, the small bowel and upper GI tract. Now, think about this. We have 30 feet, therefore, of proliferated microbes, unhealthy species, like E. coli, say.

Now, these microbes don’t live for 70 years, like we do. They live for hours to days. And that kind of trillions of microbes turning over rapidly, live and die, well, where do the debris of their bodies go? Some gets metabolized by your intestines. Some gets metabolized by other microbes. Some gets passed out in the toilet. But some gets absorbed into your bloodstream. That process is labeled endotoxemia, but that is how unhealthy bowel flora export their effects and can be expressed as rosacea on the skin, or migraine headaches in the brain, or parkinsonism in the brain, or high blood sugar, or excess weight, or high blood pressure. But it’s a crucial discovery that the microbes in the gut impact the entire body.

Tom Bushkie:

So what’s the simplest first step we can take to start improving gut health?

Dr. Davis:

People think that probiotics are the solution to everything in the bowel flora … They are not. The current choices in probiotics are very poor. They’re not very good. Not to say they don’t have any benefits. They do have modest benefits, but they are not the final answer. Too many people just rely on probiotics. The most powerful thing you can do for gut health is to get prebiotic fibers. Now, that’s a little confusing for people because we’ve been told for years, “Get plenty of fiber.” But what that advice meant when they say, “Get plenty of fiber,” they were talking about the bran or the cellulose fiber in cereals. Well, cellulose fiber is kind of like sawdust. No one here has a sawdust deficiency, right? But if you were to eat that kind of fiber, cellulose fiber, say in bran cereal, other cereals, it passes right through you. It’s inert to humans. We don’t have the enzymes that allow us to break down the cellulose fiber. So it provides “bulk.” And there’s maybe … maybe, and even that’s in question … some benefit to that kind of cellulose fiber.

But there’s another class of fibers. They’re labeled, they’re lumped with cellulose fiber, but they’re completely different. These are so-called prebiotic fibers and related compounds that, upon consumption, you can’t break down. You don’t have the enzymes, just like you don’t have the enzymes for cellulose, but bacteria do. Bacteria have the enzymes to break down prebiotic fibers. And the wonderful thing about that is you cause proliferation of healthy species of bacteria, like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria species, but you also … those bacteria process those fibers, those so-called prebiotic fibers, into metabolites that are hugely beneficial for us, like butyrate, that has effects like reducing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar, giving you deeper sleep, extending the deep, restorative phases of sleep, reducing inflammation, reducing insulin resistance, improving bowel health, acceleration of intestinal healing.

In other words, even though you’re just feeding the microbes these prebiotic fibers, they convert them to metabolites that are hugely beneficial. One of the most powerful things people can do for their health is not get cellulose fiber that just bulks up your bowel movements, but get the kinds of fibers, prebiotic fibers, that nourish bacteria.

Tom Bushkie:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, so I certainly agree with that. How quickly … I know our consumers who consume hellowater® and five grams of fiber with every bottle, or are at least having a bottle a day, or some who are more serious about their gut health are probably having two a day. But if I’m a new consumer, and I’ve just heard I’ve got some of these symptoms, and I want to try to get rid of them so that I can just feel better and live better, when should I start expecting a little bit of a result and that feeling of maybe the migraines start to go away, or I just ultimately feel better? How quickly should that happen?

Dr. Davis:

Sadly, so many people have been deficient in prebiotic fiber for so long, it’s kind of a shock to the system when you finally get some, whether it’s in Hellowater or the similar inulin-type prebiotic fibers in onion, garlic, shallots, chicory, et cetera. So you start out slow, maybe a bottle, no more than that, and see how you feel. It’s not uncommon to have a little bit of gurgling, a little bit of gas, a little bit of bloating in the beginning, because what you’re doing is you’re causing the proliferation of healthy bacteria and having them process the inulin into healthy metabolites. So there’s often a little bit of gurgling, that sort of thing. It’s harmless, but know that it’s a good effect.

Tom Bushkie:

It’s actually really good for our consumers to know, because we get all sorts of feedback, so that’s some good information. And then, moving forward, how long should that phase last in moving into just I feel great having a bottle every day?

Dr. Davis:

Days to weeks. And benefits build up over a long, long time. In other words, they do start early. You can have improvements in such things as blood sugar, that you might not feel, of course, or blood pressure. Those effects can develop within days. Longer-term effects, like relief from the various health conditions, that can take weeks to months. And this is something you want to pursue for a lifetime. This is not something you do for three weeks and give up. You want to do this for a lifetime because those bacteria in your colon, you don’t want to starve them.

I cringe, Tom, when I hear of people doing these ultra-low-carb … I like low-carb diets, but not the super-duper-low-carb diets, where they eliminate all sources of prebiotic fibers in their diet, whether it’s hellowater® or asparagus or onions and garlic. When you do that, you starve bacteria, and weird things happen. So feeding bacteria with things like inulin, prebiotic fibers like inulin, is not just a near-term thing, it’s a long-term thing you do. And inulin is probably the most powerful, most important prebiotic fiber of all.

Tom Bushkie:

And besides inulin, what else would I want to get my 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day with? What are the best sources?

Dr. Davis:

Inulin is in hellowater®, it’s in root vegetables, like garlic and onions and shallots. You can also use legumes. Legumes are a great source of the galactooligosaccharides’ prebiotic fibers, so black beans, white beans, kidney beans, lima beans, peas. Those are all rich sources of very important galactooligosaccharides prebiotic fiber. Pectin. Pectin is the fiber that’s in fruit and in avocados. Avocado is the richest source of all. And that’s very important because what you’re trying to do is obtain variety. You want to get the inulin, the most important of all, but you also want to get some galactooligosaccharides, you want to get a little bit of pectin, you want to get other things, like the polysaccharides in mushrooms, because you want variety. The healthiest people have the greatest variety, the greatest diversity of bacterial species in their gastrointestinal tract. So the key is variety, but you want to include the most important prebiotic fiber of all, which is inulin.

Tom Bushkie:

And like you mentioned, we’ve got five grams of chicory root fiber, inulin, in each hellowater®. How many would you … what’s the max amount you’d recommend, based off of that variety? Is it one bottle, is it two bottles, five grams a day, 10 grams a day, just coming from inulin, and then the rest coming from what you just mentioned? Is that about right?

Dr. Davis:

Yeah. 10 to 15 grams per day, after you’re accustomed to the effects, is about as much as you want, because you really want to do this in the context of great variety in various fibers. But inulin being the most important, 10 to 15 grams per day is a really good goal that maximizes a lot of benefit, generating healthy changes in bacterial species, and generating lots and lots of those metabolites that support your metabolic health.

Tom Bushkie:

So do you believe in what the FDA recommends with their 25 for females and 35 for men? Are you buying into that, or is it the more, the merrier?

Dr. Davis:

Sadly, Tom, that advice is kind of outdated in that they never distinguish what kinds of fibers, because unfortunately, in a lot of industry, particularly the grain industry, has made people believe that the fiber you need is the cellulose fiber we talked about. And cellulose fiber is inert. There may be very modest … and in fact, it’s even questionable that there’s any benefit at all to cellulose fibers. And it certainly should not be coming from wheat and grains. It should be coming from things like beans or green beans or fruits and vegetables. They are full of cellulose fiber, also. What that advice about fiber neglects to tell us, though, is that the majority of that fiber should be the prebiotic fiber. That is, the fibers that don’t directly benefit us, but feed bacteria and thereby provide huge benefits, indirectly, by the way of the metabolites the bacteria produce. So, unfortunately, that distinction is not made in the official guidelines, but I would say maximum benefit begins at around 20 grams of intake per day of prebiotic fibers.

If we were to track the behavior of primitive people … that is, people who still live off the land, hunt, gather, dig in the dirt for roots and tubers … those people often obtain over 100 grams per day of prebiotic fibers. Now, no one’s ever shown that we need to do that also, that there’s a greater benefit. But maximum benefit appears to occur at 20 grams of prebiotic fiber per day or greater. And then everything else you add in the way of fiber, like cellulose fiber, is kind of just icing on the cake.

Tom Bushkie:

Yeah, it’s incredible what we’re taught and what actually works. Why is probiotics … we mentioned at the start, why is probiotics so popular in the media right now and through … as a trend?

Dr. Davis:

I think probiotics seem like an easy fix. We’ve disrupted the composition of microbes in our GI tracts. “Here, just take this, and it’ll replace …” And it doesn’t work that way. There are many problems, many inadequacies in the modern concept of probiotics. One, commercial probiotics are haphazard collections, just kind of a slapdash collection of microbes thought to be beneficial, with no thought of … There’s a unique and fascinating phenomenon among bacteria. There’s something called collaborations and guilds or consortia. That is, bacteria collaborate with each other. Microbe A produces something necessary for Microbe B. Microbe B produces something necessary for Microbe C. Great collaborations. When you just slapdash assemble a probiotic, there’s no paying any attention to that.

There’s also no attention to something called strains, which sounds terribly nitpicky, but strains are very, very important in the way of bacteria. Just to illustrate, we all have E. coli in our guts, and we may have many different strains of E. coli. Your family, your friends, your coworkers all have E. coli, but what if you ate lettuce contaminated by E. coli from cow manure? Well, you can die of kidney failure and sepsis. So same species, E. coli, different strain. So it seems like a nitpicky distinction, but being aware of strain … Now, if you buy a very expensive commercial probiotic, you’ll be shocked at how often no strain is mentioned. The manufacturers typically choose the cheapest strain, rather than the most effective strain. So current formulations of probiotics are not very effective, because they fail to mention strain.

Also, they fail to include what are called keystone species. In the ocean, jellyfish and whales feed off plankton, the little teensy-weensy creatures. Well, if the plankton in the ocean are reduced or disappear, there’s no jellyfish or whales. In other words, they’re a keystone or foundational species. That same kind of biological principle applies to this ecosystem called the human GI tract. If you lack keystone species, you won’t have all the other creatures above that rely on that species. So most probiotics fail to include keystone species.

Now, this is going to evolve over time, and I think probiotics will become more effective. But by far, the most important thing people can do for bowel health is not a probiotic. That’s probably the least important thing you can do. Among the most important things you can do is to make sure you get prebiotic fibers, such as inulin and other forms, every single day. In fact, I tell my readers and people who follow me on social media, make sure you get prebiotic fibers in every meal. It sounds excessive. It doesn’t have to be tough. It could be that bottle of hellowater® in the morning. It could be a couple tablespoons of black beans in your omelet. It could be including dandelion greens in a green salad. It’s really, very easy to do that. But if you’re mindful that you get prebiotic fibers in each and every meal, every time you eat, then you up the odds that you’re going to get your 20 grams or more of prebiotic fibers per day.

Tom Bushkie:

Wow. Talk about wheat for a second, because I know a lot of people do get, like you mentioned, their fiber from cellulose fiber, and there’s a lot of wheat products out there. I mean, you look at cereals, you can find potato chips with fiber in them now. You can find crackers with high fiber. There are so many things out there. What is that doing for the body? Because I think our consumers maybe see fiber and go, “Okay, I definitely want to get some from hellowater®. I need other sources. These crackers are high in fiber. I’m going to have those, too.” What’s that doing to the body?

Dr. Davis:

Absolutely, Tom. We could fill hours with this conversation. But in a nutshell, wheat and grains, particularly modern wheat … people don’t know that modern wheat is an 18-inch-tall plant. It’s not the four-and-a-half-, five-foot-tall plant we all think of. It’s a short, stalky, large-seed-head plant created essentially in a laboratory for high yield. Not to screw with us, but for high yield per acre. But that means numerous characteristics of this plant have been changed. One thing that’s important to know is there’s a protein called gliadin … people say “gluten,” but it’s really the gliadin protein within gluten that’s the active ingredient. Gliadin is indigestible to humans. It’s broken down only into pieces. And those pieces, or polypeptides, act as opioids on the human brain, and they stimulate appetite. So that bagel, stack of pancakes, or sandwich is a huge appetite stimulant. That’s why you see people doing things like eating a huge bowl of pasta, they’re filled to bursting, yet they’re somehow still hungry. When you think about that, Tom, how unnatural that is. But that is the result of gliadin-derived opioid peptides. It takes away your ability to control your food choice and appetite.

There’s also something called phytates. Phytates bind minerals in your GI tract, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and you pass them out in the toilet. And that’s why, for instance, iron deficiency is rampant, out of control, because of increased grain consumption. There’s something called wheat germ agglutinin that is completely indigestible. It passes through from mouth to toilet, untouched. But its passage through the 30 feet of GI tract is highly inflammatory. Now, this also, by the way, disrupts bowel flora. So getting your fiber through wheat and grain is a deeply flawed way to get your fiber. Yes, it does add a couple of grams of fiber, mostly cellulose, a little bit of prebiotic fibers … I hate to admit there is actually something good in wheat grains, and that is about three grams per day that you can obtain via wheat and grains. But it comes at such a hefty health price.

And that’s why we have so many people with type 2 diabetes now, overweight and obese because national dietary guidelines sadly told us to weigh our diets heavily in favor of whole grains. That is very deeply flawed advice. So when we have people eliminate grains or at least sharply cut them back, we see them lose weight, we see them reduce their blood sugar, reduce their blood pressure. So getting your prebiotic fibers, or fibers in general, from wheat and grains, is a deeply flawed practice. There are far better sources of fiber that are benign or even healthy.

Tom Bushkie:

So what’s a good day’s worth of meals? Maybe just an example of a good breakfast, a good lunch, a good dinner that incorporates all the positive things you’ve been saying and eliminates, obviously, the negative parts, just so if I found this at the end of the day, and I kept it up for a couple of weeks, I know I’m going to feel great. What are a couple of examples?

Dr. Davis:

As far off as it seems, just mimicking the diet the way people ate for the first several million years that our species walked this planet. That’s all programmed into our genetic code. Wheat and grains are very recent additions to the diet. Sugars in excessive quantity, very recent, the last just century or so. So we revert back to the way humans would eat. So if we got up from our hut or cave or climbed down from our tree, grabbed our spear, ax, club, whatever, killed something, and ate that animal, that’s what we should do. Or gather plants, gather leaves, gather berries, gather nuts, dig in the dirt for roots and tubers. Now, no one here is going to do that, right? So we try to mimic that behavior. We eat meats, we don’t limit the fats, we eat vegetables, some fruit, we eat roots and tubers. Those are sources of …

Now, no one here wants to go digging in the dirt in the forest or jungle nowadays, so we have to find modern sources. So some sources of … other sources of inulin, for instance, are green, unripe bananas. Rich in inulin. They must be unripe, unfortunately. If it’s yellow and ripe, it’s almost all sugar with no fiber. But it’s the green, unripe banana that also is rich in inulin, so that’s another way to get some more inulin, in addition to the hellowater®. But it’s reverting back to unprocessed foods. Three eggs with some sausage with a hellowater®, a cup of coffee, with maybe a little more prebiotic fiber thrown in. An omelet with two tablespoons of garbanzo beans in it. Maybe hummus, dip some jicama in hummus. A sliced raw white potato, finely cubed or sliced, throw that in your salad with some dandelion greens. Avocado, sliced avocado. In other words, back to whole foods. If you just reject this idea of all the processed foods we’re sold, and reverting back to whole foods, supplementing with convenient sources of inulin, like hellowater®, you’re on track to enjoy magnificent control over health, weight, and being free of numerous health conditions.

Tom Bushkie:

It sounds like if you like Mexican food, you’re on your way. You’ve got your meat, you’ve got your avocado, you’ve got your beans and legumes. That seems like a pretty decent way to eat, and I could probably eat that every day.

Dr. Davis:

It is. Just one tripping point, and that’s corn, so the corn, cornmeal, et cetera. We know that people who now live in Mexico, Central America, et cetera, corn … or actually, maize and teosinte, wild then cultivated, was added about 4 to 8,000 years ago, depending on where in the world you’re talking about. And when humans did that, there was a major deterioration of human health, as there was with consumption of wheat in the Middle East, millet in Sub-Saharan Africa. So you’re exactly right. The Mexican foods, Hispanic foods, rich in legumes, wonderful. But just got to watch out for that corn.

Tom Bushkie:

Yeah, I get it. One of the things that we’re really passionate about, here at hellowater®, is to try to reduce or eliminate sugar in people’s diets. We understand the consequences, and I don’t think consumers really know just the negative consequences of consuming sugar at just about every meal, just about every day. So if you could go into what sugar does for gut health, I think that would be some great content for our consumers.

Dr. Davis:

Tom, we’ve wasted 40 or 50 years worrying about things like fat and saturated fat and red meats when, if there’s a problem in diet, it’s sugar and grains. Those are huge problems because both raise blood sugar, cause insulin resistance, lead to type 2 diabetes, and lead over time to conditions you wouldn’t think have anything to do with blood sugar or sugar consumption, like Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer. These are all fed by sugar. If I feed somebody a sugary diet, let’s say a few cans of a sugary soft drink or candy or some other sugar source, just for three days, you can get irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, diarrhea, discomfort, unexpected urgent bowel movements. It’s very inconvenient. You can develop IBS within three days of consuming excess sugar. So you go on that all-expense-paid vacation for a week, right? Unlimited trips to the buffet, and unlimited drinks. And within three days of your intake, you can actually develop irritable bowel syndrome.

But it’s worse than that. Irritable bowel syndrome is more of an inconvenience and a discomfort. It doesn’t actually impair your health and cripple you, but it can over time. Consumption of sugar can be a crippling process. It leads to … type 2 diabetes alone, we’re talking about tens of millions of Americans with type 2 diabetes. And an even larger number, at least twice as much, with prediabetes. People think of prediabetes, for instance, as a benign condition. It is not a benign condition. There’s at least a 300% increase in cardiovascular death. There’s acceleration of cataract development. There’s an acceleration of arthritis because high blood sugars erode cartilage. There is a much increased risk for cancers, a variety of sorts. There’s a great increase in colon cancer risk, in heart disease and stroke risk.

In other words, all the disease that we’re all familiar with, that are in the people all around us … not dengue fever and malaria that afflict people who live out in the wild, but what anthropologists call the “diseases of civilization,” these are diseases largely of grains and sugar consumption. Well, if you know that, and you start to craft a lifestyle, a diet absent all those sugars and grain products, you are on track to have magnificent control over health. Then, phase two, build up your microbiome. And a major component, a major [inaudible 00:28:47] is not a probiotic, but the prebiotic fibers that nourish bacteria and thereby provide all those wonderful metabolites that have effects like reduced blood sugar, reduced insulin resistance, and weight loss.

Tom Bushkie:

Wow. Just real quick, trying to think of where to go from there. It’s just fascinating to me that people don’t understand sugar. And these diseases that you just mentioned, were they around a hundred years ago, before we really got into the consumption of sugar?

Dr. Davis:

There’s been type 2 diabetes for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptian doctors described it. It’s described in old Greek and Roman texts. It was present in the 19th century. But what was not present was the explosive epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Back in those times, it was a curiosity. It was unusual. It was a disease of the wealthy, the ones who overate sweets. Peasants and common people didn’t have access to loads and loads of sweets, but the royalty, the wealthy did. So type 2 diabetes and obesity was uncommon, but almost completely the disease of the wealthy and the people who had access to those kinds of things. Well, now it’s been democratized. Everybody can be a type 2 diabetic. Everybody can be obese. And sadly, Tom, that is exactly what’s happening. The availability of cheap sugar, compounded with the consumption of wheat and grains, has created, sadly, a world of obesity. The fattest population that has ever walked the planet is in the US.

And that’s a manmade creation. It’s not because there’s some horrible pandemic, a virus that caused this. It’s not some genetic change in the genetic code. It’s what we’re doing in our lifestyles. If that’s true, if we created this epidemic of type 2 diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases … all these things are rapidly on the rise. Well, if we understand that it’s largely the things we’re doing in diet causing it, but specifically sugar and grains, well, there you have a solution. Don’t consume sugar, don’t consume grains. Or at least minimize them to the absolute rock-bottom minimum.

And then go a step further: nourish the microbes. As we said earlier, the microbes in your GI tract are not this idle curiosity that gets disrupted with antibiotics. No, no, no. They are extraordinary influences over your health, from the thoughts you have, to the dreams you have while you sleep, to how well you sleep, to your mood, whether you’re happy or upset or angry, to your skin quality, the thickness and smoothness and the sebum production in your skin, to the laxity or the lubrication of your joints, to the health of your coronary arteries. In other words, we’re talking about a world of microbes, trillions of them, that have a major influence. And unfortunately, most of us don’t give a second thought to our microbiome. In fact, we may even have taken an antibiotic, never gave a second thought to the fact that we just dropped a bomb in the midst of our very important microbes. So part of the solution to backpedal out of that awful mess we’ve created as a society is to ensure that you feed the microbes what they want.

Tom Bushkie:

So one of the things that I’ve been noticing is teenagers and acne, and I feel like it’s much worse or much more intense than it was when I was growing up. Can we contribute or at least relate some of that to the excess sugar that so many people are consuming these days?

Dr. Davis:

Absolutely. There’s not many living, remaining hunter-gatherers in the world. But if we did visit the few little pockets of those persistent people, or we rely on the accounts of what those people were like from a century ago, we find that they don’t have acne. The teenagers have zero acne. Well, why would that be? Well, what are they eating? They’re eating the spoils of their kills, right, from hunting or fishing or gathering shellfish, the berries they gather, the nuts they gather, the roots and tubers they dig out from the earth. But they consume no wheat, grains, nor sugars. Or there may be occasional consumption of sugars, seasonal consumption when a specific fruit becomes available, or they find the occasional honeybee hive. But sugar is a rarity. It’s an uncommon thing.

Today, sugar is a continual … it’s a huge component of most … especially teenagers’ diets, because they’re drinking soft drinks with sugar, they’re eating pizza, they’re eating snacks, they’re eating candy. That kind of sugar raises the body’s insulin level, and it’s insulin and insulin resistance that causes acne. So recognition of that … I see kids taking these horrible, toxic drugs for this skin condition that was caused by the sugary soft drink or the candy or the snacks they’ve been eating. So eating real food, unwrapped, un-cellophane-wrapped, avocado, tomato, pork, salmon, get prebiotic fibers, that is a far more healthy way to deal with acne than taking toxic prescription drugs.

Tom Bushkie:

And in America, we’re an immediate-gratification society. So if I’m a teenager and I just do everything that you said, how quickly can I expect my acne to improve?

Dr. Davis:

Typically, within a week, you’ll start to see changes. It’s pretty quick. It’s not overnight. Unwinding these metabolic distortions can take time. It also depends on how much weight you have to lose, because excess weight, particularly weight around the waist, “love handles,” reflects visceral fat, which is very inflammatory and adds to insulin resistance. So if you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, it’ll be a little slower than someone who’s slender. If you’re slender and don’t have a lot of weight around the waist, then it can be very quick. But a week, you can typically start to see major changes, and then, over ensuing weeks and months, see dramatic changes.

Tom Bushkie:

So what’s the foundation that’s being set when I see kids as young as four years old, five years old, just eating candy every day and having sugar at meals, and having yogurt in the morning or cereal with a ton of sugar, just sugar in general all day long? What am I setting myself up for, if I’m that six-year-old, for the rest of my life? What are the problems that I’m going to have because … at this stage, I think I see a lot of kids, six years old, they feel like they can just shake it off. But that consistent, everyday sugar at every meal, what is that going to do to me, moving on as I get older in age?

Dr. Davis:

It’s sad, Tom because we’re seeing it play out in real life. Kids become overweight, obese. They’re giving kids cholesterol drugs now.

Tom Bushkie:

Can’t believe it.

Dr. Davis:

Fatty liver. Fatty liver afflicts now about half the population, including children. Well, fatty liver’s not this just benign curiosity. It leads to real health … it might not be till age 50, when you have cirrhosis, a distended abdomen from what’s called ascites, accumulation of fluid, and then go into liver failure and have a liver … my colleagues are good at saying, “Well, then we’ll give you a liver transplant,” but they don’t tell you that a liver transplant is a catastrophic procedure, and you only bought a few years of life, and it’s a horrible life, at that. So fatty liver, type 2 diabetes. If a child develops type 2 diabetes at age 14, which is becoming, as you know, very common, or 24 or even 30, you’ve cut at least eight years off your life. Eight years off your life, and those last years shorter are not happy years. They’re kidney failure, blindness, amputations, stroke, heart disease. It is a horrible end to a shortened life. So we’re not talking about a benign condition. We’re talking about a collection of illnesses that will show themselves.

And when kids eat that candy, one of the great effects is massive disruption of the human microbiome in such a way that leads to diverticular disease, diverticulitis … very painful … colon cancer. Tom, you’ve probably heard the headlines. Colon cancer used to be a disease of people in their 60s and 70s. It’s increasingly become a disease of people in their 30s and 40s. Well, that process didn’t get started at age 29. It got started at age four or seven, with such things as over-consumption of sugar, alterations in the microbial composition of the microbiome, colon cancer at age 37. So this has huge life-altering implications. So I urge, in my audience, the parents to know that it seems like kids can get away with anything, but that’s not true. It just might not show for a few decades. But do you want your son or daughter to have colon cancer at 44, or cirrhosis at 50, or some other catastrophic illness? Well, that process all gets started as children.

Tom Bushkie:

Yeah, and I think if I’m a mom or dad listening to this, I’m saying, what are the chances it’s my kid that would have that? But honestly, you’re seeing it more and more and more, so the odds of it happening are completely real. So if I’m a mom listening to this right now, and I give my child candy every day or sugar or popsicles at night or ice cream, how do I then turn that around? Because you can’t go overnight and go, “Oh, you can’t have anything anymore. I want you to be healthy as you grow up.” In your opinion, is there a plan to change the ratio and get them to eat a little bit healthier?

Dr. Davis:

There’s a lot we can do. We can’t do everything. If your child goes to a birthday party, and they’re serving cake and pizza, okay, it’s hard to prevent that. But you can start by not having garbage products in your home. You don’t have sugary soft drinks. You have something like hellowater® that your child can drink. It’s delicious, and there’s no harmful effect. You can not have candy. You can make food. Now, here’s where it gets a little bit complicated. One of the things I do is I show people how to make, for instance, pizza or cheesecake or blueberry muffins or chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter cookies with no sugar and no flour. We use such things as almond flour. We use benign sweeteners as you have in hellowater®, like stevia or monk fruit or allulose. We use ground golden flaxseed. We use benign healthy ingredients that actually are healthy.

Now, there’s a process. Kids will know the difference at first, but as they get accustomed to it, you often find they say, “Hey, Mom, could you make that pizza again the way you did before? It was so delicious,” or “Could you make those peanut butter cookies? They were wonderful.” So you’ll find that, over time, kids … one of the things that happens when you get rid of sugar and wheat and grains is there a reawakening of your taste sense. And you’ll be shocked when your children say things like, “Hey, Mom, you know what? Why does this broccoli taste so much better now?” There’ll be a reawakening. “Mom, could you make Brussels sprouts? I love them.” You don’t hear that from kids who consume a diet of sugar and grains, but when you banish sugar and grains, there’s … part of the gastrointestinal tract is the tongue, and there’s a reawakening of taste, and kids will start asking. So it may seem difficult, it may seem to be a little battle at first, but over time, you’ll see that the kids become what they should have been all along, that is naturally whole-food-eating kids.

Tom Bushkie:

Your knowledge on the subject, Dr. Davis, is just absolutely incredible. It is my hope for the world that, as small as hellowater®, that we can at least get this information out, a lot of the information you were saying, so we can have kids and adults and all the way up into your 70s, 80s, 90s just live the way they were intended to live instead of the way they’re living with all the complications. I really appreciate you being on today. And again, we could probably talk for hours, like you mentioned, and maybe we’ll have another conversation, but I really appreciate it. And for our consumers, I know that they’ve got some really valuable content today that they’re going to use. And if they want to know more about yourself and some of the books that you’ve written, where can they find you?

Dr. Davis:

All my books are in major bookstores, Amazon of course. Lots of conversation in my Wheat Belly blog. There’s also a Facebook page that’s associated with that. We also have, for face-to-face interaction, we have something called the Undoctored Inner Circle. That’s a place where you can actually talk to me, ask questions. We have live conversations with 70 to 100-some people every Wednesday night, and it’s a chance to understand all these concepts, how to put these ideas into practice. And we have tons and tons of people, Tom, who were former type 2 diabetics who put a stop to the progression of their heart disease, who have lost 30, 80, 130 pounds effortlessly. We never limit calories. We never limit fat. We never say things like, “Jog seven miles.” We never say anything like that. We simply revert back to some basic concepts that includes rebuilding a healthy microbiome. And you can have spectacular effects.

Tom Bushkie:

It’s because you’re treating the cause. You’re not treating the symptom. That’s what’s so frustrating about the healthcare system. It’s just, like you mentioned, you’ve got 14-year-olds taking cholesterol pills because they’re not … doctors aren’t treating the cause. They’re just treating the symptoms.

Dr. Davis:

Absolutely.

Tom Bushkie:

It’s so frustrating. And again, we created hellowater® for a great reason, and if we can bring this information to life, I’ll feel good about the legacy of hellowater® and what we did for the world. In the last couple minutes, I’m just really, really curious. How did you discover the wheat belly phenomenon? You’re the first person who knew it, from what I know, right? You’re the first one to come up with this whole reason that everyone’s getting obese and having all these problems. And even though America’s telling you, “Eat more wheat. Eat more wheat,” you go, “Wait, wait, wait. Slow down.” What was the light bulb where you figured it out?

Dr. Davis:

It was very simple, Tom. I practiced cardiology for 25 years, putting in stents and aborting heart attacks, et cetera. My mom died of sudden cardiac death after her angioplasty. And it drove home to me that dealing with a disease, like coronary disease and heart attacks, in a [inaudible 00:44:17] in a procedure room is a really lousy way to manage this disease. So I tried to find a better way to identify, then put a stop to heart disease five years, ten years before it ever became something fatal or dangerous.

Well, there’s a very common fiction, and that is that high cholesterol causes heart disease. Cholesterol does not cause … let me be absolutely clear on that … cholesterol does not cause heart disease. Cholesterol is a marker, a crude marker, for the particles in the bloodstream that cause heart disease, such as small LDL particles. Not LDL cholesterol, but small LDL particles. We know this with good confidence, science going back over 20 years, even though it’s not widely talked about, that the small LDL particle is more adherent to the arterial wall, it’s more oxidation-prone, more dangerous. It’s more likely to stimulate inflammation in the arterial wall when it gains access. It lasts five to seven days in the bloodstream, compared to 24 hours of LDL particle created by fat consumption.

So I asked, well, what caused …? And we measure it. These tests have been available for 30-some years. You can measure the number of small LDL particles. I used, for instance, something called NMR, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, spectroscopy. It’s widely available. It’s not expensive. And you can find … you’ll find rapidly, anybody with coronary disease has oodles of small LDL particles. So I asked, what foods cause small LDL particles? Science is clear: grains and sugars. Not saturated fat. Sorry. Not saturated fat, not butter, not beef. Only the amylopectin A of grains and sugars.

So I said, well, let’s give it a try. Let’s banish all wheat grains and sugars from your diet. I gave my patients a two-page handout. This was before the books came out. They did it. They’d come back and they’d say, “Hey, okay, my small LDL dropped from 1,800 to zero.” That’s a typical response. “But I lost 47 pounds. You didn’t tell me I’d lose 47 pounds. And I had to stop my insulin and my Byetta injections and my metformin because my blood sugar went so low, I’m no longer diabetic. I had to stop two of my blood pressure medicines because my blood pressure … Now I have normal blood pressure on no medicines. My skin rash went away. My joint pain got better.” So, Tom, I did it because I wanted to give people better control over small LDL particles and thereby cardiovascular risk. But I stumbled onto something that was far bigger, and that was what launched the whole Wheat Belly books movement.

And now word has spread. You know what? The wheat and grain industry, big pharma, they still have more money than I do to advertise their wares and their strategies. But you know what? I believe we are having an effect. And it helps that people like you and hellowater® are also spreading a similar message, a message of health, not of medication, a message of vigor and youthfulness, not of file for your Medicare and take your seven prescription agents. That’s not how humans are supposed to live. We’re supposed to be dancing at age 94, riding bikes, jumping rope, making love to your spouse. That’s how humans are supposed to behave. And unfortunately, it’s all been waylaid by modern advice. So I applaud what you and hellowater® are doing because you’re adding to the conversation in a very healthy and fun way.

Tom Bushkie:

Well, we’re going to keep promoting it. Again, thank you for everything that you’ve taught us today, and maybe we’ll do another one sometime in the near future.

Dr. Davis:

Let me know where and when, Tom. I’ll be there.

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