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On today’s episode, we’re going to meet Dr. Lauren Deville and discuss her book, The Holistic Gut Prescription: Create Your Own Personal Path to Optimal Digestive Wellness. This is a really cool podcast episode, particularly if you’re suffering from any kind of digestive issues. She helps you cut to the chase and find some real solutions to get healthy in a natural way.
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Allan (1:14): Dr. Deville, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Lauren Deville (1:17): Thanks for having me.
Allan (1:19): Your book is The Holistic Gut Prescription: Create Your Own Personal Path to Optimal Digestive Wellness. When I got into the book, I thought it was going to be predominantly a nutrition book. I guess it’s because you think digestive health and you think nutrition. But what I’m learning big time is that digestion is only part of what your gut does for you. There are so many other things going on there that we’re going to talk about stuff that’s way off the grid of nutrition.
Dr. Lauren Deville (1:56): Right, absolutely.
Allan (2:00): It was a good reminder for me that the things that are going on in our health – if we’re not taking care of our gut, we’re just not going to get there.
Dr. Lauren Deville (2:09): It’s the key for an awful lot of the rest of your health. I didn’t want to specialize per se, but it’s a way to specialize without specializing because almost everything goes back to the gut.
Allan (2:22): When I first started reading I thought, “Now we’re talking about air quality. Let’s see where this goes.” Obviously we know if we eat poison, typically our gut’s smart enough to tell us to throw that up. You eat something that disagrees with you, your digestive system kicks in. You might not feel too good while it’s happening, but it does the things it needs to do. But we don’t really have that kind of reflex thing happening so much with the air. We could breathe bad air all the time and really not even know it.
Dr. Lauren Deville (3:04): True. The thing is that we’re exposed to so many toxins now – in the air, in our food, in the environment that we’re around in our house and our buildings, things like that, that are low level enough that they don’t create an acute reaction. If they’re severe enough, they do and then it becomes really obvious. But when it’s chronic and it’s building up slowly over time and you’ve got tiny changes in your symptoms that are increasing over a period of months or years, it’s hard to pinpoint where it’s actually coming from. And a lot of it is cumulative.
Allan (3:42): In our house, we buy furniture, our floors are probably shellacked with something. How does someone go about reducing that load or at least knowing what is there and what isn’t there? What are some things that we can do to improve our air quality?
Dr. Lauren Deville (4:04): Before you’re actually ill from it, one of the very best things you can do if you live in a climate where this is possible and you don’t have severe allergies, is just open your windows. And start having the fan blowing, ideally toward the outside, so that you’re getting some of that toxic air out, just off-gassing, because there’s so much of that stuff. That’s especially critical when you’re doing any kind of construction. Before I moved into my current office, we had to paint it and also put down new floors. So while I was aware of trying to get low VOC paint – the kind that isn’t going to have nearly as much of the chemicals that are going to get into the air – there are still going to be some. And the flooring – there’s still going to be some of that. So I did that a couple of weeks in advance. I think I did get my landlords to let me open the doors, but I also got some good HEPA air filters and put them in multiple places before we moved anything else in, so that we could get as much of that out, so that we weren’t going to be breathing it, as possible. One of the things that I also recommend people do is to get a high quality HEPA air filter. Put it in your bedroom, because that’s where you spend the majority of your time. I also have one in my office – in my actual physical office, as opposed to the larger building where I practice – because I’m spending a lot of time there and so are some of my patients. Also in your bathroom, you’ve got a lot of products. I usually try to convince people to offload some of the products that are full of a bunch of chemicals. That’s really the best way to go to try to minimize those things. Minimize the cleaning products that are full of chemicals, use natural stuff whenever possible. But there’s possibly still going to be some stuff. They’re usually equipped with one of those air filters, air vents. Use them when you’re in there because that’s going to really help. If you’ve got one in your kitchen, use it in there. As much as you can get the air circulating and get fresh air in – that is going to really, really make a big difference.
Allan (6:00): I’m a big fan of getting outside in nature. Trees are some of the best filters of our air. Typically if you’re walking through a forest, you’re getting some of the cleanest air that you’re going to be able to get in your area. So the more time you can spend out of doors, the better.
Dr. Lauren Deville (6:16): Absolutely true.
Allan (6:19): Then we start talking about some other things, like mold. I have a particular story: My wife and I bought this house that we’re about to sell. It’s in a lot better shape now than it was then, because we didn’t know we had mold when we first bought the house. The house inspection didn’t catch it. My wife was starting to feel sick, so I said, “Let’s clean out the filters, clean out the ducts, because we don’t know when that was done.” And we brought a company in – they didn’t notice any mold. They cleaned the ducts. That cleaning process they did basically stirred up the spores. So our walls, at least in one bathroom in particular, were lined with mold two days later. It was horrible. So we had to hire a remediation company, and now I’m good friends with him. His name’s Greg; he did a great job. Shout out to you, Greg – you saved our lives. He came in and not only had to replace all the duct work, he replaced all of the insulation on our attic and then put in a new HVAC unit, which basically all it does is dehumidify the air, because we’re in Pensacola Beach.
Dr. Lauren Deville (7:30): Yeah, you need that.
Allan (7:33): We had two units for the house and now we have this extra unit that’s further taking the humidity down and that’s helping a good bit. But even after the exposure, my wife remained sick and actually had to go in for surgery because of this reaction. Now, in the book you say there are three types of mold and you talk about once you’re exposed to mold some of the bad things that could happen. If you start down that line, what are some things we can do from a treatment perspective and a prevention perspective?
Dr. Lauren Deville (8:04): Sure. So, the types of mold I’m talking about are allergenic, pathogenic, and toxic. The pathogenic toxic molds are going to cause everybody a problem at a certain threshold, but where that threshold is depends on the genetic susceptibility of the person. About a quarter of the population is genetically susceptible to mold, and there’s a test called HLA-DR that I talk about in the book that you can have your doctor run to find out if you’re one of those people or not. And if you’re not, that doesn’t mean if you’re exposed to toxic mold, you might not have a problem; it just won’t be as severe and it won’t be as hard to get you healthy as it will for some of the others.
Then there’s allergenic mold, and those are only a problem if you’re actually allergic to them. So other people can be around those types of mold and be totally fine. There are some blood tests that you can do to differentiate between the two, which ones you’re reacting to. The people that are going to have the hardest time with mold exposure, and it sounds like your wife is probably one of these people, are the ones who are in the genetically susceptible camp and they can have any number of reactions. This can be very systemic. What the mold is producing is called biotoxins. That’s what the toxic mold is producing that’s causing lots of problems. They can downregulate your hormone production, it can cause lots of sinus issues, which you were describing with your wife. If I see chronic sinusitis, I’m almost always going to look for at least fungus, if not mold. Very often there’s a mold issue and / or a candida or other yeast issue that’s the underlying issue, and that’s why you keep getting these bacterial superinfections on top of the fungal infection. And the antibiotics aren’t eventually touching it, because the tissue is still not healthy. So there’s that. I’ve had people who have had really serious upper respiratory issues as a result of that. Had some where it manifests as asthma. I’ve had a lot of them where it manifests as gut problems that don’t want to go away, which is the reason why I put that in the book. I’ve seen a number of cases of leaky gut syndrome where the root cause is actually toxic mold exposure. The gut’s not going to heal until you actually get rid of it.
So, what you do in order to get rid of it – once somebody is actually toxic, you have to get away from the environment, of course, and then you also have to get that out of your body. So if you’re not one of the genetically susceptible people, sometimes just getting away from the environment is enough, because your own mechanisms will eliminate it. But if you are, then you probably need a little bit of extra help. Regardless of whether they are or not, I pretty much put everybody on binders. Binders are substances that you can swallow. My favorite is Colestipol or Cholestyramine. It’s an off-label use of a cholesterol medication. What it does for cholesterol is it grabs it and pulls it out of your body; does the same thing to mold. So it’ll just grab that and pull it out. And if somebody doesn’t tolerate that or doesn’t choose to go the actual pharmaceutical route, then I will have them do maybe activated charcoal. Some people do bentonite clay or zeolite. Things like that are all really good binders. Depending on how high the level is, usually it’s at least a couple of months – sometimes it’s longer – but it also depends on whether they’re able to get away from the environment. I’ve had some people where it’s their workplace that’s moldy and they don’t plan on quitting. Then we just have to keep treating them. So, you do what you can do as far as that goes.
Allan (11:20): If you know you’re sensitive to this and you’re looking to buy a new house, make sure the inspector knows that. You want them to do a really thorough check on the mold issue. I was baffled that all these professionals I hired to come in and advise me… I bought the house. It was going to be my house, but if I had known that I had that issue, that would have been the first thing I would’ve fixed; I wouldn’t have found it later. It was almost a year later before we really identified the problem, and that was a lot of exposure for my wife.
Dr. Lauren Deville (11:59): It’s not part of the typical process of the inspection, so that’s why they weren’t even looking for it. They usually don’t, unless you hire a company that specializes in testing for mold. So I would look for that. I’ve had a lot of people who will have the wrong kinds of tests done and they’re told everything’s clean, and they’re clearly sick. We see it in their blood work that there’s still something going on and they feel sick whenever they go into the house. We know there’s a problem. You have to make sure that you get somebody who really knows what they’re doing when they’re testing for the mold. The other thing I would say is make sure that the company that tests for the mold is not also the company that does the remediation, because then they have a vested interest in finding it.
Allan (12:42): We found it, because we saw it growing down the wall. I didn’t have to hire anybody to tell me what my problem was. He got up into the attic, and I remember the call, because I was actually coming out of physical therapy for my shoulder. He got on the phone with me and he said, “I don’t want to make this call, but your entire system needs to be pulled out. Everything.” He said, “We’re not sure if it’s into the Sheetrock yet. If it is, it’s going to be much worse.” But he said it’s bad. And I said, “Throw a number out there. We’ll deal with it, because it’s my wife, it’s her health, it’s our house. I’ve got to get it fixed.” Fortunately, there’s a happy ending to the story. We were able to solve that. My wife is better now for the most part. She still has awesome allergies all the time, but that’s not mold. So, hundredfold better.
Now, I eat seasonally, because I feel like that’s what my ancestors did. So right now we’re into the winter. I don’t eat any fruit at all during the winter. I think the only fruit I really eat is olives. I guess olives are technically a fruit, so I take that back. I had some olives this morning. But other than maybe some olives, I really don’t eat fruit during the winter. Fruit can be a problem for some people.
Dr. Lauren Deville (14:08): It can, yeah. Fruit is high in sugar in general, so that’s something that I do have people typically limit, especially if they’ve got either yeast overgrowth – back to the mold conversation, where if you’ve got mold, you pretty much have yeast; those are two things that will definitely go hand in hand. I’ll have people avoid fruit completely for the first two weeks of a protocol if they’ve got yeast overgrowth. After that I’ll let them have one piece a day as long as it’s a lower glycemic fruit – so not bananas, not figs, not dates, those kinds of things. But if they also have insulin resistance or something along those lines, then I will also have them greatly limit. A Lot of my insulin resistant diabetic patients, I will permit them to have berries – the really dark colored ones, just because the antioxidant status is so good; but not a lot of them. A small handful a day or so, and we cap it at that. And if they’ve got major blood sugar issues and they’re totally out of control, I’ll cut fruit entirely until we can get that under control. So, there are a decent number of people who do have some sensitivities to it, but I don’t restrict it for everybody altogether. I usually try to cap it at two pieces a day for everyone.
Allan (15:15): We don’t want to vilify fruit. I think it’s so easy in the food space for them to say, “Fat’s bad, sugar’s bad, fruit’s bad.” I can’t eat meat, I can’t eat fish.
Dr. Lauren Deville (15:27): What’s left?
Allan (15:29): Now I can’t even eat Romaine lettuce. I’ll just go suck on a stone, I guess. You did hit me in the heart a little bit with this next one, because I wake up early – about two or three hours before anybody else in the world is up. It’s my wonderful time. It’s when I don’t receive any emails, the phone doesn’t ring, the dogs don’t bark. It’s just this beautiful, quiet time, and I enjoy that quiet time with a few cups of coffee. Now you’re telling me that the coffee might actually be disrupting my testosterone.
Dr. Lauren Deville (16:12): Caffeine does affect hormones. Now, I’m not one of those people who takes caffeine out for everybody entirely. It depends on the person. There are some people where we have to do that because either their adrenals are too low or their hormones are too disrupted, and then it’s usually a temporary thing. But for somebody who is healthy, they’re not in adrenal fatigue, they don’t have major hormone imbalance – usually I’ll cap it at a cup, maybe a cup and a half a day. If you want more than that, if there’s an emotional addiction to caffeine or to coffee, which I also have – decaf after that point, so that you’re at least not doing as much of that. But the main thing with the caffeine and the sex hormones is that the metabolism of sex hormones and metabolism of caffeine is the same, via the liver, so it’s like you end up with a bottleneck. If you’ve got all of these things trying to get out of the liver at the same time, then not everything can get out at once, and you end up with a backup and with imbalance. Lower amounts of caffeine don’t have nearly as much of an effect on that. But if you are having large amounts of it, then it certainly can create great disruption. I honestly see that more often in women who have estrogen dominance issues than I do in guys who have low testosterone, although it can be an issue for them as well.
The other main thing, a little bit more indirect for the testosterone piece, is the adrenals. The core of your adrenals produces adrenaline; the outside produces several hormones, most important one is cortisol. Cortisol will start off highest when you wake up in the morning, decline throughout the day until melatonin takes over at night so you can sleep. You can’t have unopposed adrenaline. So, if you’ve got excess adrenaline from some kind of stress or from caffeine, because caffeine will indirectly pump out additional adrenaline, then you have to have excess cortisol over and above what the adrenals are normally producing in order to take you back down to baseline. That’s fine if that’s only happening occasionally, but if you’re doing it every day, and especially if your adrenals are already low to begin with, it’s like whipping a dead horse. You are forcing them to work harder and harder and harder. I have definitely seen an association with any sort of stress and guys having low testosterone too. Also for women, the adrenals are very linked to your sex hormones. When the ovaries are not producing as much, either because you’re going into your period or you’re going into menopause, the adrenals are the ones that pick up the slack. And if they’re super tired because you’re having tons of caffeine and / or there’s lots of stress from someplace else, or inflammation from anything else external, then you’re not going to be able to compensate very well and you’re going to have disruption across the board.
Allan (18:52): Okay, I’ll do my best to taper down. Notice I didn’t say “quit”.
Dr. Lauren Deville (19:00): I understand. I’ll meet you where you’re at.
Allan (19:07): This next part, the conversation goes all over the place. I’ve heard a lot of people tout that raw vegetables are good for you, and other people say raw vegetables are hard on you. I eat some raw vegetables. I eat mostly cooked vegetables, if I broke it all down. For me it’s a mix. Now, when it comes to fermented, I love sauerkraut. I’ll eat sauerkraut as often as I can possibly have it, and I enjoy even making it for myself. Can you talk a little bit about vegetables, preparation and things like that, and how we can benefit our gut by understanding ourselves and doing it the right way?
Dr. Lauren Deville (19:47): Sure. There are pluses and minuses to all of the above. The raw veggies are going to have some antinutrients that will keep you from absorbing some of those vitamins and minerals. But on the flip side, when you cook them, a lot of those vitamins and minerals will end up going into the water if you’re boiling. However you’re cooking those vegetables, you are going to lose some of the original nutrition that was in the raw form. So there’s that. There’s also the fact that the raw veggies can have a lot of roughage in them, which is good in terms of fiber that can really help keep you moving, but on the flip side, if you’ve got any kind of gut inflammation, raw vegetables are not going to be your friend. So for those people, it’s probably not the best way to go. With fermented veggies, fermented anything, you are getting a good dose of probiotics, the good bacteria that are going to help keep your gut going. The only real caveat I have is if somebody has yeast overgrowth or SIBO, fermented vegetables can actually perpetuate the problem. So, you want to be aware. If you have a tendency toward lots of gas and bloating, these may be great for you. It depends on what your problem is as to whether they will or whether they won’t. If somebody has a fairly healthy gut though, fermented vegetables are really, really good for you. The reason why I say that is because the fermentation process is uncontrolled, so you are going to get some good stuff. You’re also potentially going to get some yeast, if there’s a yeast problem. Across the board, it may end up contributing to imbalance if there’s already imbalance there. But they are fantastic for somebody that is on the GAPS diet, if you don’t already have an issue with that. The GAPS diet is pretty much the only one out there that I say those people don’t have to be on a probiotic, because they’re getting enough fermented vegetables that are coming from their diet, and that’s what our ancestors did historically. But most people don’t have the time for that or the energy or maybe they don’t like the flavor or whatever. For everybody else, I want them on a probiotic because you need something in order to help keep the gut healthy in that way.
Allan (21:51): Yesterday I had a spinach salad – five ounces of it. It looks like a big honking salad, but it’s only five ounces. If I had an issue, like SIBO or something that, I would feel bloated and gassy after eating that. Would that be the basic symptoms someone should be looking for when they’re eating vegetables to see if there’s an issue?
Dr. Lauren Deville (22:13): No, I was talking about the fermented veggies.
Allan (22:19): But if I have an issue with the raw vegetables, how would I recognize that?
Dr. Lauren Deville (22:23): The raw vegetables are usually going to be if you’ve got diverticulitis or something like that. Or some people that are in an ulcerative colitis flare are not going to do well with the roughage. Those people are going to need really simple cooked, easy to digest foods at that time. For almost everybody else, you’re not going to have an immediate reaction to raw veggies, unless you’re allergic or something. You mentioned the spinach – if you’ve got an oxalate buildup or something – in that situation maybe. Spinach is really high in histamine, so maybe you’ve got a histamine problem. In that case you’re going to get super itchy if you’re eating that much spinach. But for most people I don’t really restrict the raw vegetables per se. It’s just that there are some of the antinutrients that are in there, so it’s good to have a decent mix of the cooked vegetables and the raw at the same time, assuming that everything else is fine.
Allan (23:17): Cool. A lot of my clients will ask me, “What supplements should I take?” And I always push back on that because one, I don’t think we have to take supplements if we’re getting everything we need from our food. I’m also a realist and I know that we’re not going to get everything from our food or from the sun. I actually had a blood test recently and found that my vitamin D is down. I’d been working on a book, so I wasn’t outside as much as I thought I was. So, I am taking a vitamin D supplement. But in the supplements discussion that you had in the book, you brought up a term. And I’ve heard this before, but I really want to dive into it. It was the chelated versions versus the other types of versions that are out there. If somebody’s a vegetarian or vegan, they might not be getting enough B12. Vitamin D is an important one that most people can look at. Fish oil is one. But when we’re looking at these supplements, they’ll always ask me, “What do I need?” I struggle with that because I don’t take a lot of them. I just say, “Find a reputable company.” Now we’re going to talk about chelated, because I think this is a pretty important thing for us to consider when we’re buying. Because if you’re taking a supplement and it’s not working for you…
Dr. Lauren Deville (24:39): There’s no point.
Allan (24:42): Just give me the money, I’ll do as much for you.
Dr. Lauren Deville (24:45): Right, exactly.
Allan (24:46): So, can you explain that and what we should be looking for in our vitamins?
Dr. Lauren Deville (24:49): Right. The minerals are the ones where this is important. There are vitamins and there are minerals. The minerals are the micronutrients that are complexed with something in order for them to be delivered. So, chemistry term real quick – they are charged particles. They’re positively charged for the most part, and they have to be combined with something negatively charged so that they’re neutral for the sake of delivery. And then once they get into your gut they get broken apart again. The chelated ones are easier for your gut to actually break apart and then absorb the valuable part of it, the valuable mineral. The oxide, sulfate and carbonate are the forms that are most common and they’re really cheap vitamins, and they are close to useless. It is very hard for your body to break those apart. Not only are they close to useless, they can actually be somewhat harmful. And I say “somewhat” because it kind of depends. Magnesium oxide or sulfate or carbonate for instance – all of those are going to work great as a laxative, because they will draw water into your colon, but you’re not going to really get much of that magnesium anyplace else. That means if you’re taking it in order to move your bowels, it’s going to work, but you’re going to be chained to the toilet because you’re going to have lots of cramping and stuff.
The chelated versions, because you can break them apart, it’s a lot gentler if you’re using it for that reason, because not only are you drawing water into the colon, but you’re getting that magnesium absorption elsewhere in your body. For calcium, a few years ago, you may have heard about the study that came out that showed that taking calcium orally was actually damaging to your cardiovascular system. That study was done on oxide, sulfate, carbonate – those kinds of calciums are not absorbable into the tissue so then they’re going to precipitate out on plaques in your bloodstream, and that ends up contributing to plaque formation. If you get a different form of calcium that’s designed to absorb into your tissues, that’s not the case. So you do want to make sure that you’re able to get these into your body, aside from, you want to get your money’s worth out of your supplement. Chelated is anything ending in “ate” that is not sulphate or carbonate. I know that might be kind of confusing, but citrate, orotate, glycinate or threonate – any of those are all considered chelated and they are a lot easier for your body to use.
Allan (27:08): Okay. We are going to have a full transcript of this. That was a lot to absorb right there.
Dr. Lauren Deville (27:16): Sorry.
Allan (27:16): No, no, no, no, it’s cool. We can go back and read this in the show notes. This is going to be episode 361, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/361. Go down to this part of the conversation and you can pick up exactly what she said. Print that out or write it out, and when you go to look for your magnesium or calcium supplements, if you need those, then that’s what you’re going to want to look for. Thank you for sharing that, because it can get so confusing. And yeah, you see a study that says, “Don’t take calcium”, but the doctor is saying, “Your bones are starting to get a little brittle, so you need to start taking some calcium.” And you walk into Walmart or the pharmacy, and what’s the most expensive one or…
Dr. Lauren Deville (28:03): You don’t know what to do. Exactly.
Allan (28:05): This is one my mother took. She’s still around, so it must work. Now, I’m going to apologize to you right now, Dr. Deville. I have a final question and I neglected to put it on the show plan for you. So if it takes you a minute to think this through, that’s cool. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest, happiest person you can be. What are three strategies or tactics that you could give us that will help us be and stay well?
Dr. Lauren Deville (28:42): Okay. So, my basic philosophy of naturopathic medicine is that if you give the body what it needs to heal itself, and then find and eliminate obstacles to cure, then within reason healing will follow. How you actually walk that out for each individual person is going to look different and may end up being a whole lot more complicated depending on what you’ve got going on. But at base, that’s what it is. So I guess what I would say is, strategy one – maybe spend a little time and sit down and think about, where are you lacking building blocks? Are you giving yourself the right nutrition – so, macronutrients or micronutrients? Are you not exercising? Are you getting decent sleep? Are you dealing with your stress? Do you have a spiritual connection? Do you have people around you, a community to support you? If you notice that any one of those things is lacking, then those would be the places where you specifically would need to place your attention. And along the same lines, I’ll use this as my number two. I’m kind of cheating here; this is kind of like wishing for more wishes. But if you were to then look at where your obstacles to cure are, the ones that are specific to you. This is what I walk people through in the book: Are you in a toxic environment emotionally or physically? Do you have an obstacle to cure? Maybe you’ve been exposed to a bunch of solvents, maybe you’ve been exposed to a bunch of chemicals in your food. Maybe you’re really overdoing the caffeine. Maybe there was a heavy metal exposure or something. Figure out where your obstacle to cure might be and focus on eliminating that one for you. And I guess I will say number three – everybody really does need to focus on their stress management. If I had to just pick one – have a really good stress management technique that you can practice on a regular basis. And by regular, I would like it to be daily and I would like it to be at least 30 minutes to an hour. But if you can only manage three times a week, whatever you have to do. We all need to make sure we make that a priority, because that is probably the number one area where I see most people falling short.
Allan (31:03): Absolutely. I appreciate all three of those. The last one also resonates with me. This has been my year, and next year will be another year of, how can I get my stress level down as low as possible? Dr. Deville, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, The Holistic Gut Prescription, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Lauren Deville (31:29): My website has all of that information – www.DrLaurenDeville.com. You could also go to Amazon and look it up, but all the links and everything are right on that website, so that would probably be the best place.
Allan (31:42): Alright. You can also go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/361, and I’ll be sure to have the links there. Again, thank you so much, Dr. Deville.
Dr. Lauren Deville (31:51): Thank you for having me.
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