10 Minute Interview on Balancing the Microbiome

I was recently asked to give a short, 10 minute answer to the following question question: “What’s the #1 thing you recommend people do right now to maximize their health and wellness?”

This was part of a very special interview series with 26 of the world’s leading health experts and doctors, each giving their perspective in 10 minutes or less called.  The interview series is call 10 Minute Wellness Tips  (which you can get for free).

The transcript to this interview is below in its entirety.  And if you enjoyed it…

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Bob Serling: This is “Ten Minute Tips For Maximum Health“, and today, I’m talking with Dr. Frank Lipman. Dr. Lipman is a board-certified doctor of internal medicine, and a pioneer and internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative and functional medicine.

He’s the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, where he practices his personal brand of healing known as “good medicine”. A “good medicine” combines the best of modern contemporary medicine with the best of alternative and complementary medicines.

Using this innovative approach, Dr. Lipman has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality, and recover their zest for life, so I’m very pleased to have him share his wisdom with us today. Welcome, Frank.

Dr. Lipman:    Thanks, thanks for having me, Bob.

Bob Serling: Well, thank you very much. So I have one question for you today, which is, what is the single best thing you’d recommend that people do for maximum health benefits right now?

Dr. Lipman:    Well, that’s a tough question to boil it down to one single thing, but if I had to choose one thing now, I would say balance your microbiome. What is a microbiome? The microbiome is this collection of bacteria that we have on our body, and in particular, our gut.

Each of us contains a whole inner ecosystem, composed of trillions of bugs, microbes in our digestive system. In fact, we have more bugs in our gut than we have cells in our body. In fact, the bacteria in our gut outnumber our cells by 10 to 1, so it’s no exaggeration to say that we’re actually more bacteria than human.

This microbial community in our bodies is absolutely critical for maintaining optimum function. It’s crucial for digesting food, supporting your immune system, protecting your gut, revving up your metabolism, and even helping you maintain a healthy weight. Balancing your microbiome is the key to healing inflammation. Healing inflammation is a secret to staying young and slim, so that would be my one tip, balance your microbiome.

Bob Serling: Great, so are there are a couple specific things people could do to work towards attaining that balance?

Dr. Lipman:    Absolutely. The first thing, well, I mean, there’s a number of things, but I would say, you’ve got to remove sugar and gluten in particular from your diet. If I had to choose two big foods, those would be the foods. I would start eating more fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi.

I’d start incorporating what we call prebiotics, the foods that actually feed the good bacteria. Vegetables like asparagus, cruciferous vegetables. Jerusalem artichoke. I would take a probiotic. I would avoid factory-farmed meats, because those are full of antibiotics.

I would only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary, because, you know, we use antibiotics to kill dangerous bacteria, and they’re a wonderful discovery. The problem is, they also kill the friendly bacteria, so they basically devastate your microbiome. If you’re eating factory farmed meats with antibiotics, and you’re taking frequent courses of antibiotics, you’re devastating this intricate balance of good and bad bacteria, so those would be the big tips, in terms of balancing your microbiome.

Bob Serling: Great. You know, from personal experience, I quit eating anything containing gluten about four years ago, and that alone improved my health dramatically. Can you explain a little more how gluten affects people, and why it is so important to eliminate it, to get health benefits?

Dr. Lipman: Well, I think it’s important to realize that the gluten of today is a far cry from the gluten of even 50, 60 years ago. You know, we’ve altered this grain to make it more hearty, and to give us more grain form for what we’re growing. So it’s an altered grain, and it’s triggering inflammation in the body. We see this all the time.

Your experience is typical of what I see all the time. I take people off gluten, their digestive system gets better, their joint pains go away, they lose weight, and that’s because the gluten of today, the pro-inflammatory food, is creating inflammation in the body, and we’re not exactly sure why.

We know some of the reasons, the possible reasons. One of it is, it triggers what we call a leaky gut. It triggers inflammation and some destruction of the lining of the gut. There’s actually a molecule that increases when you have gluten, it’s called zonulin, and there are actually studies to show this. The zonulin actually increases the spaces in the gut wall, and the gut wall is, for a large part, just one cell thick.

So you’re putting in a substance into your body that’s damaging the wall, or actually increasing the spaces between the wall, and when that happens, you have toxins and food particles or breakdown of food particles going through the gut wall into the bloodstream, and triggering all this inflammation in the body. So to me, sugar and gluten are the devil.

Bob Serling: Great. You know, and I can attest. Back when I started going off gluten, it was a little more difficult. There weren’t a lot of options around, but today, there are so many options. Even in almost any restaurant you go to, and certainly the grocery stores, even the regular stores, and then certainly in stores like Whole Foods and all of those. So it’s really easy to do.

Now, I want to ask you the toughest question, though, which is, I found, to be honest with you, I found going off gluten to be a breeze. It didn’t bother me in the least. Sugar is a different challenge, for me, and for so many people. Can you give maybe a simple recommendation that people might start using to either lower or eliminate sugar?

Dr. Lipman:    That’s a great question, because sugar is actually a drug, so when you’re getting off sugar, it’s like stopping a drug. So you have to understand, that you have to have a plan in place when stopping it, because you’re going to go through withdrawals. To help with sugar cravings, I recommend, there’s an amino acid called glutamine.

You can eat sweet vegetables, like carrots and beets and squashes, to get some of that sugar. Be careful of drinking fruit juice, because that’s too much sugar. Also, beware of many of the gluten-free products out there, because they’re also loaded with sugar and other starchy foods.

Probably the most important tip will be, fill your plate with vegetables and healthy fats, so there’s less room for the sugar and starchy foods, but it is a problem stopping sugar, and that’s actually part of why I use a cleanse to get people off sugar and gluten. You need to have a plan in place, to actually get off these drugs.

Bob Serling: Well, great. You know, it’s amazing, because I have, I experienced exactly what you said. I experienced a withdrawal with sugar. Now, with gluten, I didn’t, because I was consuming so much and it affected me so heavily, that I actually felt much better almost within 24 hours of quitting it.

I think, at least in my personal experience, gluten was the hardest for me, but I’m sure, I mean, was the easiest for me, and I’m sure with different people, it can be a very different experience. They may have an easier time with sugar than with gluten.

Dr. Lipman:    Yeah, I think different people experience it differently. I think, as a general rule, people do have a harder time with sugar, but many people have a very hard time with gluten, too, and I think they need to understand that for the first few days, it’s going to be tough, but afterwards, you feel so much better, that it’s worth it.

I think when people can experience their vitality again, and can experience feeling that much better, then that’s what keeps them off the sugar and the gluten, because they’re feeling so good, they don’t want to go back to how they were feeling before.

Bob Serling: Sure. Well, that’s fantastic, and this has been just great advice. What I’d like to ask you now is, how can people find out more about you and what you do?

Dr. Lipman:    Well, I have a website and a newsletter, at DrFrankLipman.com, and you can go to BeWell.com.

Bob Serling: Oh, great.

Dr. Lipman:    An easy website to remember. BeWell.com, and you’ll find me.

Bob Serling: Well, excellent. So Frank, I really want to thank you today, I appreciate all the advice you’ve shared and the work you’ve done. I know it’s helped me a lot, so thank you so much for your time today.

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