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In the last episode of a series with “The Better Brain Solution” author Dr. Steven Masley, he and the Amens discuss how to improve the health of your microbiome to boost your heart and brain. Dr. Masley gives his practical tips on what your stomach loves (and what it hates) so you can change your body’s chemistry to stay healthy and happy.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Ayman.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Ayman. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Ayman Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit AymanClinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to BrainMD.com.
Welcome back. We are still here with our friend Dr. Steven Masley. You may have seen him on PBS. We are talking about The Mediterranean Method, his book that comes out December 31st. You can buy it anywhere that books are sold. We're having such a good time, and talking about tips and what you can do to be healthier to reverse heart disease and plaque, which I didn't even know you could reverse plaque, so that's really interesting.
But today we're going to talk about the gut heart connection. We've often talked about the gut brain connection, so we'll touch on that today, but the gut heart connection. So I'm really interested to hear about this.
Dr Daniel Amen: But before we do, I have another one of these controversies swirling in my head. We talked to Dr. Steven Gundry, and he's completely not a fan of beans because of the lectins on beans. So these are proteins that he says, and other people have said, I think the paleo people say this as well, that the lectins can increase leaky gut because they open the tight junctions of the gut wall lining.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: So I want-
Tana Amen: But if you are in that camp, they're not all the same. First of all, cooking changes it. And also not all beans are the same. Lentils are softer than other beans. So that's a whole nother ...
Dr Daniel Amen: But we should get the bean controversy out.
Tana Amen: Right. We should talk about it.
Dr Daniel Amen: What do you think, Steven? Have you thought about this?
Dr Steven Masley: [crosstalk 00:02:15] the greatest longevity on the planet. Spain's just now overtaking Japan as number one, and actually Italy's probably going to be number two, and France and Greece will be three and four. So the longest living people on the planet eat a ton of beans.
And so what are the benefits of beans first? They have the highest [inaudible 00:02:34], antioxidation score of any food on the planet. They block oxidation and internal resting better than anything else. They're loaded with nutrients and fiber and B vitamins, and they're a good source of protein and calcium. I mean, there's so many good things about them, but they do ... lectins in beans do block some nutrient absorption. But beans are so rich, they overcome that. Spinach blocks nutrient absorption for some nutrients, but I don't say "don't eat spinach".
So they are very nutrient rich food. Now, there are probably, just like dairy and gluten, there are people who are intolerant. They have a reaction to lentils. And so if you get gut distress from eating lentils or any, you know, lentils are probably easiest. I'm glad you mentioned that. But if they bother you, avoid them. You know, if you have a dairy intolerance, don't eat dairy. If you're soy intolerant, don't eat soy. I mean, and I believe that ... I think probably five to 10% of people are really lectin intolerant and should not eat them. If you're not intolerable-
Tana Amen: That's exactly what I tell people, yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: Cause he also says cashew nuts have high lectins and so you should avoid them, but I love cashews. The question is, and you'll like this, I tell people that I've been in bad relationships in the past and I have a great relationship with my wife and I'm only going to love people who love me back. I'm sort of done with the whole bad relationship thing. Well it totally works with food, that I only want to love food that loves me back. It's a relationship. And so I guess what I'm hearing is, if you love beans but they don't love you back you should break up with them.
Tana Amen: Right. And I love what you said.
Dr Steven Masley: I love that. I love the way you said that.
Tana Amen: Yeah. And there are some people, like you said, who are much more sensitive than other people. And that's why one of the things I talk about is, just like other foods, they shouldn't be your staple. I don't make them a staple for people. It's like, eat them in more moderation, eat them in smaller amounts, see how you react to them. If you're one of those people who are sensitive, then there are some people that it just rips up their gut. They just can't do it.
Dr Steven Masley: Then don't. Don't eat them.
Tana Amen: Just don't. Right. Exactly. But there are some people who can eat some types of beans and not others. The larger beans tend to cause more problems.
Dr Daniel Amen: All right, so the beans took up way too much time. Talk to us about the gut heart connection.
Dr Steven Masley: Well, this is emerging. It's really quite fascinating that your microbiome and your gut ... you know, we have trillions of microbes there, a hundred times more than we ever thought possible. Now a hundred times more genetic material in our gut microbiome than there is in our whole body. You know, it's this amazing organism that lives within us and we have a symbiotic relationship.
But your gut microbiome impacts your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your blood sugar, and your weight. Almost all the risk factors for heart disease are impacted by your gut microbiome. And now we even know that though your gut microbiome can make TMAO, this compound that's associated with heart disease that they're starting to track.
The good news is if you're just eating, and most of ... I should have said, and most of that TMAO comes from eating meat and animal protein. So you could go vegan, vegetarian and avoid it to protect yourself. But if you really follow a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle with the foods that really blocks TMAO production and protects you, so it impacts all the risk factors.
I mean, the relationship is much more profound than ever thought. We've always known. Well, not always. We've known for over a decade how important the brain gut connection is. But I think the heart gut connection is just starting to be revealed.
Tana Amen: Wow, that's super interesting.
Dr Daniel Amen: So what can people do to optimize their microbiome?
Dr Steven Masley: I mean, well, there's some things that really hurt your microbiome. So what things really attack your gut bacteria? Antibiotics. I mean, yes, if you have dying of pneumonia, take your doctor's recommendation. But 90% of the time I would say the vast majority of people treated with antibiotics probably don't need them. And if we asked our doctor, "Could I wait and give this a few more days? Would that be safe?" I would guess 80, 90% time the doctor would say, "Sure, let's just watch and see how you do, and see if you fight it off," because we know one course of antibiotics messes up your microbiome for over a year.
Tana Amen: Yep.
Dr Daniel Amen: Wow.
Dr Steven Masley: Sweeteners, you know, things like Splenda and NutraSweet and all these sweeteners that are in diet drinks and foods have a very adverse effect on your microbiome. So cutting out sweeteners is very important. The biggest factor ... So those are two things to avoid. Antibiotics when you can, not always obviously. And sweeteners, which we can avoid 100%.
But fiber is what feeds your gut. If you don't eat vegetable, fruit, beans and nut, even if you take a probiotic, they'll starve to death. They have nothing to eat in your gut. So we have to eat fiber to nourish the good bacteria. And almost the more fiber the better.
And also we need some probiotic source. So either it's probiotic rich foods like organic plain yogurt and Kiefer or kombucha or sauerkraut or ... I mean there's so many, miso, there's so many sources that we can now get a probiotic. So fiber and probiotics, and avoid antibiotics and sweeteners, and I think you would dramatically just right there you could dramatically change your ...
I mean there's many more things, but I think those are the key essential steps to have a healthy gut to support your brain and your heart.
Dr Daniel Amen: So many of our integrative medicine friends say you have to start with the gut because it impacts so many other things.
Tana Amen: So I've heard the same thing, that taking antibiotics can alter your gut function for over a year. But I had heard this, and I'm curious to know if this is true or just sort of a rumor I heard, that if you take antibiotics chronically as a child, like I did, it can actually alter your gut function permanently. That it is very difficult to get it back. Is that true?
Dr Steven Masley: It's more challenging. I wouldn't say impossible, but yeah, the more you take them, the bigger the challenge. If you're born by C-section instead of a vaginal birth, if you've had antibiotics as a child, it still impacts you as an adult.
So what else are you doing? If you really take probiotics, and you eat lots of fiber, and you avoid the things that bother it I think we can overcome that-
Tana Amen: So we have to work a little harder, but we can do it? So you have to be vigilant is what you're saying?
Dr Steven Masley: Yeah. You have to be vigil to overcome that, but I think it can be overcome. It's definitely not hopeless.
Tana Amen: And what do you think about fecal transplants?
Dr Steven Masley: Well, they have some risks. So, you know, there's infections that go with them, and then we've had a few people recently die who've had a fecal transplant. So if you've got a serious infection, like C Diff, and it's not being controlled, I don't have any hesitation. But some people are doing it for weight loss, and it works, you know it's working. But that's a pretty dramatic treatment for something that might be best addressed other ways.
Dr Daniel Amen: So maybe not the first thing to do? You have just been so wonderful, Steven. It's so nice to see you again.
Tana Amen: Let's get a picture of your book again.
Dr Daniel Amen: Steven, you've just been so wonderful and we're honored to be able to share your work with our Brain Warrior audience. How can people follow your work and learn more about what you have to offer?
Dr Steven Masley: Probably the two easiest ways would either be The Mediterranean Method, available wherever books are sold. Or they could go to my website, drmasley.com. D R M A S L E y.com and I give out ... I have a blog and free recipes that I give out and share with people on a regular business.
Tana Amen: Excellent. It's been such a pleasure.
Dr Daniel Amen: Thank you so much.
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